An Indian student from Karnataka, Naveen Gyanagouder, a fourth-year student at the Kharkiv Medical University has lost his life in a shelling. And much like his dear ones and friends and fellow students, many amongst us must be mulling over the reason today, only if he hadn’t got caught in the crossfire; what he had stayed back to study here in India. Death often makes most of us regret it in hindsight.
Even as many students have returned home safely, the death of Naveen may create more panic in the hearts and minds of thousands of parents in India, who must be praying hard for their safe return, Imagine last month even as the students were going about attending classes and dreaming of a future as a doctor, all that changed in a couple of weeks’ time as war loomed largely and sirens and shelling became a regular feature in their lives.
In the Russia-Ukraine conflict so far over 5000 casualties have been reported and tens of thousands of Ukrainians, as well as Indian students, have fled to neighboring countries like Romania and Poland.
Even as there are reports of the Russian military inching its way closer to Kyiv it should be the singular focus on the Indian government to rescue its 18,000 plus students enrolled in medical and engineering colleges of Ukraine.
The fact is that when nearly half the country’s medical colleges are in the South, why did these 18,000 Indian students move to Ukraine to study medicine?
According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) from February 28, 2021, 25,672 out of 71,769 students moved to foreign shores were from South India — 11,790 students from Andhra Pradesh, 5,040 students from Kerala, 4,355 students from Tamil Nadu, 311 students from Telangana, and 4,176 students from Karnataka.
Insofar as Ukraine is concerned, ranks fourth in Europe for the largest number of graduate and postgraduate specializations in the field of medicine and India is amongst the top 10 countries of origin of international students in Ukraine alongside Morocco, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, China, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and Uzbekistan.
18,000 Indian students moved to Ukraine to study medicine because:
1. No. of seats & Competitive Exams
Ukrainian medical colleges are a boon for Indian students who struggle to secure seats in Indian government colleges. Also, Indian students opting to study medicine in Ukraine have yet another advantage and that is that they aren’t required to clear any entrance test to get admission into medical universities. In India, there are a total of 44,555 MBBS seats offered by 302 government medical colleges for students to get admission through the NEET-UG Entrance exam.
That hurdle cleared, there is of course that caveat that students who pass out from medical colleges in foreign universities mandatorily need to clear the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) for a grant of license to practice in India as per the Medical Council of India.
2. Ukrainian colleges are cheaper than Indian colleges
The next reason for the large number of students opting to study medicine in Ukraine is money. There is no doubt that the medical schools in Ukraine are cheaper, the fee for MBBS in Ukraine can vary from $3,500 to $5000 which is Rs 2.65 lakh to Rs 3.8 lakh per annum as against one crore charged by private MBBS colleges in India. Also, the education standards are high.
3. Ukrainian Degrees recognized in India
Let’s also not forget that all Ukrainian universities are not only accredited by the World Health Organisation and UNESCO, but the MBBS degrees in the universities of Ukraine are also duly recognized by the Government of India.
In November 2019, despite the delay in NEET results, many Tamil Nadu students decided to go abroad for medical studies. Even in Pre-covid times, educational consultants say that around 5000 students from Tamil Nadu move abroad every year to study medicine.
Most of the Indian students in Ukraine study medicines. Ukraine’s ministry of education and science reported that in 2020, 24% of its overseas students were from India.
Kharkiv National Medical University, situated around 480 km from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, is a dream college for many students. Notably, Kharkiv was one of the first places where Russia launched its attack.