Low fees, many seats: Many Tamil Nadu students fly to medical schools in Russia, China
“Low marks in entrance examinations closed the doors on medical colleges in India. So I enrolled in a medical college in China in 2009,” said Varghese, who grew up in Kochi and is now a final-year MBBS student at Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China.
“When I finish my degree, I would have spent Rs 20 lakh on tuition fee over six years. The donation itself is twice as much in India,” he told TOI from China. A limited number of medical seats in India, high cut-offs, competition, and the huge fees and donations charged by private medical colleges are sending students from southern India to Armenia, Georgia, China, and the Philippines, where fees are relatively low and the admission process more simple.
Consultants in Chennai have started promoting medical courses in the Philippines too. “Students prefer the former Soviet Union nations, China and the Philippines over the UK, US, and Canada, which are expensive. Completing medical school in the US will cost between Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 3 crore. In China, a student can get a degree from a top college for Rs 36 lakh, inclusive of tuition fee, food and stay, in six years,” said Paul Chellakumar, group chairman of the Chennai-based Campus Abroad.
As a common entrance exam has been made mandatory for medical courses in India from this year (NEET), the demand for medical education abroad is likely to grow, he said. Universities abroad teach medical courses in English for international students. “The cost of medical education is lower if students choose institutions in cities other than Moscow and St Petersburg. We recorded an annual increase of 15% to 20% in Indian students joining Russian colleges,” Study Abroad managing director C Ravichandran said.
Education counsellor Sujatha said degrees from some private universities in Georgia lack MCI recognition, which means students getting degrees from there cannot practice in India. She said Tbilisi State Medical University is the only state university in Georgia whose degrees are recognised in India. Students must clear a screening test conducted by MCI on their return. “Some private institutions mislead students by falsely using ‘Tbilisi’ with their names,” she said.