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Behind migration of Indian medical students, less fees or fake biz model?

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Around thousands of Indian Medical Students every year go outside the country to pursue medical education. China, Ukraine, Philippines, Russia are some most favoured destinations where Indian students prefer to study the medicine.

War-torn Ukraine ranks fourth in Europe for having the largest number of graduate and post-graduate medical students. Around 18,095 Indian students are in Ukraine, some of them have been evacuated, as per Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science. In 2020, 24 per cent of its overseas students were from India.

The paucity of medical seats in India’s government colleges and higher level of fees in private medical colleges can be the main reasons behind the migration of Indians. But, some say that there is a fake business model running parallel where agencies are working with foreign universities in different countries on around Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per candidate.

Omkar Jilla, hailing from Maharashtra, is third year medical student in Ivano-Frankivsk National Medical University. Talking to IANS, he said that students prefer to come here because of its affordable fees. “Where we have to spend Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh per annum in private medical colleges in India, here it costs Rs 3 to Rs 4 lakh only. However, I agree the studies here are not that good as compared to India, but still we get our degree of MBBS after 6 years when we clear MCI/NEET,” he said.

“In India, we waste several years in preparations for NEET. In Ukraine, there are three options – National University, State University and Private university, for students. The fee structures are more or less the same at all three levels”, he added.

However, Omkar says that on the quality parameter of the education, not much difference is there between India and outside. “We have to study 80 per cent by ourselves from video lectures and book, which is mostly similar to India. Even in practical studies, no more options are available as India has”, he says. “Most importantly, we get the MBBS degree here,” he told IANS. Omkar is stranded at the Bucharest airport at the moment.

On the contrary, Federation of All India Medical Association President, Dr Rohan Krishnan says main reasons for migration is not just the high fees of private medical colleges in India but there is a fake business going on in the country where many of the agencies are working with colleges in Ukraine, Russia, China and Phillipines. “They are getting a good cut of around Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per candidate. So mainly they try to hack the mindset of young people. They show a delightful world of myths and fables to these teenagers and tell them that education quality is good there and they will pass Foreign Medical Graduate Examination in one go which is conducted by the Indian Government National Medical Commission (NMC).

Dr Krishnan claims that this is just a day dream for most of the teenagers as the passing rate of FMGE in India is only 5 per cent and there is literally no teaching for this exam in Russia, Ukraine and other countries.

“However, the education is cheaper outside India but training is not as good as compared to India. Most of them have zero clinical experience and most of the Ukrainian patients don’t allow Indians to examine them. The training is so bad that majority don’t even clear FMGE exams. The agents are the happiest in the process as they make money”, said Dr Kabir Sardana, Director Professor and Head Dermatology Department, RML hospital.

In order to get a medical degree, one has only three options — either, one has to pass the NEET with good marks to get enrolled in a government medical college or take admission in a private medical college. The last option is to go abroad which is also available at cheaper fees, says Dr Ashutosh Shukla, Senior Director Internal Medicine, Max Hospital. He says this is what attracts Indian students, but they also need to pass FMGE (Foreign Medical Graduates Examination) to practice in India.

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