What options await students fleeing eastern Europe

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Summary

An uncertain future awaits Indian medical students fleeing Ukraine and those aspiring to study medicine in eastern Europe amid an ongoing conflict. Mint explores how Europe’s worst war since World War II may shape the choices that students make.

An uncertain future awaits Indian medical students fleeing Ukraine and those aspiring to study medicine in eastern Europe amid an ongoing conflict. Mint explores how Europe’s worst war since World War II may shape the choices that students make.

Why do Indian students prefer eastern Europe?

Countries such as Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia are positioned as affordable and quality destinations for foreigners aspiring to study medicine. The subsidized education system of the region is the hallmark of the Soviet era’s resolve to achieve universal education. Russia, for instance, subsidizes 70% of the fee for studying medicine. Students from India pay about 15 lakh for six years of MBBS degree there. The fee structure is comparable in Ukraine and Georgia, too. India, however, works out to be far more expensive—an MBBS degree in a private college costs anywhere between 50 lakh and 1 crore.

How did these nations attract intl students?

The eastern European countries relaxed their visa system, lowering visa fees and relaxing eligibility requirements. Admission to MBBS is based on class 12 grades and not India’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test scores. The Ukrainian currency hryvnia and the Russian ruble are cheaper compared to the Euro or US dollars, making it affordable for students to meet their living expenses in cities there. Also, these countries have formalized the intake of students from other parts of the world (India remains the top supplier of medical students) through a well-established network of agents.

The affordability factor
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The affordability factor

What happens to medicos who escaped Ukraine?

Their future, for now, is in limbo. Some students are hopeful of continuing their degrees in Poland, Hungary or Georgia. However, most students haven’t collected their mark sheets and transcripts from the Ukrainian universities. It now seems nearly impossible to get access to those documents, with even university buildings under attack in some Ukrainian cities.

What about those now studying in Russia?

The sanctions against Russia currently pertains to trade and there has been no indication from any other country about derecognition of education degrees. However, trade sanctions and the collapse of the ruble could cause great inconvenience to Indian students staying in Russia. The overall political climate and sanctions by many western nations could bracket Russia in a league of countries that includes North Korea. In such a scenario, Indian students may not want to risk their future by studying there.

Are there alternatives to Ukraine and Russia?

The options are limited as affordable medical education is mostly available in eastern European countries. Education agencies in India who specialize in sending Indian students abroad are now looking at universities in countries such as Armenia, Uzbekistan, China, and Philippines (not necessarily in this order). China, once, was a popular destination but securing visas has become difficult because of the recent political tensions with India, according to one agent that Mint spoke to.

 

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