An uncertain future awaits Indian medical students fleeing Ukraine and an ongoing conflict between those seeking to study medicine in Eastern Europe. Mint explores how the worst war in Europe since World War II could shape students’ choices.
Why do Indian students prefer Eastern Europe?
Countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Georgia are positioned as affordable and quality destinations for foreigners interested in studying medicine. The region’s subsidized education system is a feature of the Soviet era’s commitment to universal education. Russia, for example, subsidizes 70% of fees for medical studies. Students from India almost pay 315 lakh for a six-year MBBS degree there. The fee structure is also comparable in Ukraine and Georgia. India, however, is much more expensive – an MBBS degree at a private college costs anywhere. 350 lakhs and 31 crore.
How did these countries attract intl students?
Eastern European countries have relaxed their visa regime, reduced visa fees and relaxed eligibility requirements. Admission to MBBS is based on grade 12 grade and not entrance test score with national qualification of India. The Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia, and the Russian ruble are cheaper than the euro or US dollar, making it more affordable for students to meet their living expenses in the cities. Also, these countries have formalized the acceptance of agents from other parts of the world (India is the top provider of medical students) through a well-established network.
What will happen to the doctors who fled from Ukraine?
Their future is currently precarious. Some students are optimistic about continuing their degree in Poland, Hungary or Georgia. However, most students did not collect their marksheets and transcripts from Ukrainian universities. In some Ukrainian cities, even university buildings have been attacked, making access to those documents almost impossible.
Now what about those who are studying in Russia?
The sanctions against Russia are currently trade-related and there is no indication from any other country that the recognition of education degrees has been revoked. However, trade sanctions and the fall of the ruble could be a major setback for Indian students in Russia. The overall political climate and sanctions imposed by many Western countries could tie Russia into a league of countries including North Korea. Under such circumstances, Indian students do not want to risk their future by studying there.
Are there alternatives to Ukraine and Russia?
Options are limited because affordable medical education is available in most Eastern European countries. Indian educational institutions that specialize in sending Indian students abroad are now looking at universities in countries like Armenia, Uzbekistan, China and the Philippines (of course not). According to the agent with whom Mint spoke, China was once a popular destination, but recent political tensions with India have made it difficult to secure visas.
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