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As govt evacuates students from Ukraine, a look at how many Indians study abroad

As govt evacuates students from Ukraine, a look at how many Indians study abroad

The Ukraine crisis has brought attention to why Indian students go abroad to study speciality subjects like medicine and how many are currently studying in their preferred destinations.

Indian students numbering about 18,000 constitute the largest group out of the nearly 76,000 foreign students studying in Ukraine, mainly in medical courses, according to official estimates. Indian students numbering about 18,000 constitute the largest group out of the nearly 76,000 foreign students studying in Ukraine, mainly in medical courses, according to official estimates.

Amid escalating tensions and destruction in under siege Ukraine, a medical student from Karnataka's Haveri district was killed earlier today in intense shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

With India now boosting efforts to evacuate its nationals and even India's air force gearing to join the evacuation mission soon, thousands of students find themselves engulfed in fear in the war-torn country. 

As the focus now shifts to why many Indian students are studying abroad, especially when it comes to speciality subjects, we take a look at how many Indians study abroad and what are their favourite destinations.

Indian students numbering about 18,000 constitute the largest group out of the nearly 76,000 foreign students studying in Ukraine, mainly in medical courses, according to official estimates.

So what's the economics of studying medicine abroad?

An India Today report mentions that it costs a lot to study MBBS abroad. In countries like Ukraine, with living expenses, an MBBS course for five and a half to six years would not cost more than Rs 35 lakh to Rs 40 lakh, while the fee for a management quota seat in India is fixed at Rs 30-70 lakh. This huge gap has led many aspiring students to look at emerging economies, like Ukraine.

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The report also added that even if you do have enough money, the private institutes are not easy to get admissions. Only 20,000 seats are reserved for the management quota in private institutes and the fees are exorbitant. Many find it tough to pay more than Rs 1 crore to complete the MBBS course.

Additionally, the MBBS programme in Ukraine lasts for six years, and being much more affordable in comparison to private medical colleges in India, it is a popular choice among Indian students.

Separately, Ukraine is the 11th most favoured destination for Indian aspirants wanting to study abroad. About 18,000 students prefer Ukraine for education, according to data from the Ministry of External Affairs compiled by India Today's Data Intelligence Unit (DIU). The United Arab Emirates see approximately 219,000 Indian students.

In percentage terms, the number of students studying abroad saw a contraction of 56 per cent in the pandemic year (2020) when compared to 2019.

Here's a look at how many Indians study abroad and what are their preferred destinations:

Meanwhile, the Ukraine crisis is the second rescue and evacuation event for Indian nationals and students undertaken by the Government of India during Covid-19, in the past two years.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine following Russian President Vladimir Putin's instructions of carrying a "military action" on February 24, at least 6.6 lakh refugees from Ukraine have fled to neighbouring countries such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, etc, amid a fierce attack from Russia. The maximum number of refugees have taken shelter in Poland.

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Further, three evacuation flights from Romania's capital Bucharest and Hungary's capital Budapest came to India on Tuesday with 616 Indian nationals who were stranded in Ukraine due to the Russian military offensive, officials said.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said late evening today, "We had an estimated 20,000 Indian students in Ukraine at the time that we issued our first advisory. From that number approximately 12,000 have since left Ukraine, which is 60 per cent of the total number of our citizens in Ukraine."

He also informed, "Of the remaining 40%, roughly half remain in conflict zone in Kharkiv, Sumy area and the other half have either reached the western borders of Ukraine or are heading towards the western part of Ukraine - they are generally out of conflict areas."

(With inputs from India Today, agencies)