Russia-Ukraine war poses uncertainty for future MBBS aspirants

As thousands of Indian students fled back home amidst the Ukraine-Russia war, questions around their future have started coming up. While they are still trying to figure out their next move, others who were hoping to study in Russia or Ukraine in the near future are now having to look for alternatives.

According to experts, with the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, the focus of Indian students looking to study medicines abroad is shifting to other countries such as the UK, the Philippines, Nepal, Poland, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, amongst others.

Why abroad?

Experts believe the reason behind students choosing to pursue their MBBS or higher degrees from other countries rather than India is simply due to the quality of education being offered abroad at an affordable tuition fee. “Students, who are genuinely interested in becoming a doctor, find MBBS courses more affordable in certain countries abroad in comparison to India,” Prateek Bhargava, the founder and CEO of Mindler, told

Supporting this argument, Yatharth Gulati, co-founder of Rostrum Education, added, “In our experience, most Indian students tend to prefer Eastern European countries for medical courses because they are much more reasonable in terms of tuition fees and cost of living. They are also relatively much easier to get in.”

Another reason Indian students head abroad is the “limited number of seats in India which essentially forces many to look outside for other options,” Bharat Arvind, the head of overseas education counselling services at Yocket, told

“With the level of competition in India, it is almost impossible for every aspiring medical student to find their place, and it’s even more difficult for those students who are unable to crack a higher score in the NEET examination. Considering the level of competition in India and the exposure an international education can offer, studying medicine abroad has become a major trend since the last decade,” added Bhargava.

Nearly 25,000 students head abroad every year to study medicine and experts say, this number has gradually increased in the last few years. According to data shared by the Union Ministry of Health in the Lok Sabha in December 2021, there are 88,120 Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) seats and 27,498 Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) seats available in India even as more than 16 lakhs candidates registered for the NEET exam last year. The huge gap is a clear indication of the trend that students are choosing to go abroad to study MBBS, Bhargava explained.

Barbara Alexaundria Er, the head of marketing and student enrolment at Manipal University College in Malaysia, also noted that nearly 30 per cent of the MBBS intake is taken up by Indian nationals.

Other options

One of the most sought-after countries for a medical degree and settling abroad is the UK. The usual requirements are an overall band score of 7.0 in IELTS, with a high IB grade (40+) or at least a AAA in Cambridge A levels with Chemistry or Biology as compulsory subjects. In the case of CBSE, students should obtain at least 50 per cent marks in class 12 with subjects including Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

While the eligibility criteria for a medical course in the UK is not demanding, the high cost of living, travelling and comparatively higher tuition fee makes it difficult for students who are hoping for affordable expenses. In such cases, countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Poland, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and others become a favourable choice, say experts. The admission criteria in these countries are not half as difficult as in India, which makes it even more convenient for Indian students to consider this option.

Experts say students hoping to go abroad to pursue a medical degree can look at countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, Poland, Kyrgyzstan and others, if they want to return to India and offer their expertise here. And, those who want to settle abroad after completing their courses can opt for European countries such as Germany, Spain or head towards the UK, the US, Malaysia, Canada, Singapore and Australia, they added.

However, those hoping to go to the UK and other European countries should start preparing according to the entry requirements as soon as possible to make sure their admission is approved and they can make good use of their tuition fee.

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