Why do Indian students choose universities abroad for medical education?


A veil of sadness descended on a Karnataka-based family on Monday after the Foreign Office confirmed the death of 21-year-old Naveen SG amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis. A fourth-year medical student at the National Medical University in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, Naveen had offered his friends to leave the country on Wednesday to bring their juniors, who had been in the country for less than a year. Naveen and her friends survived on cookies and juice packets for a few days before Naveen volunteered to fetch them supplies. He became the first Indian casualty in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

His son got 97% PUC

Naveen’s father, Shekarappa, who was a mechanical engineer in a factory, said his son was a brilliant student and scored 97% in pre-university exams. However, he was unable to secure a medical seat in India due to excessive MBBS costs in the country. His death highlighted the main drawback of the Indian education system, which demands huge costs from students for a professional degree. More than 18,000 students are stranded in the war-torn country, and more than 90% of them are medical students.

As hundreds of students traveled miles to reach Poland and other countries for evacuation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the country’s private sector to step up medical education in India. Our country has more than 88,000 places for MBBS each year and more than 27,000 places for dental studies, but students choose universities abroad. By comparison, 1.6 million candidates had registered for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) last year, and in 2020 that figure stands at 1.3 million. The difference highlights the gap between aspiring doctors and the country’s ability to train them.

What is the Cost of Studying Medicine in India?

Since 2014, the number of places for MBBS has increased from only 51,000 per year, and the number of colleges has almost touched 600, up from 387 in 2014. However, while the annual fee for the course in government colleges is ₹2 lakhs, it could reach ₹15-20 lakhs in private colleges. The cumulative cost for a four-year course reaches almost ₹60-70 lakhs, which is too high for an ordinary person. In Russia, Ukraine, China and the Philippines, the cost of education is lower, and so is the competition.

A four-year course in Ukraine costs nearly ₹15-17 lakhs. Even though the cost is higher than public medical colleges in India, the difference is exponential when compared to private colleges in India. While the country’s top students enroll in government colleges, the rest who couldn’t get a seat land in international schools like Russia and Ukraine.

In addition, students returning from overseas colleges must pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination, which is said to have a low passing percentage. Those who studied in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand cannot take the test. Even though the Narendra Modi government is eager to expand the country’s health sector, the possibility of developing colleges is not the best way forward.

Also read: #NotWorthIt: Women are still the worst victims of armed conflict around the world


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