Study Abroad: Six Ways Indian Medical Students Get Duped And How To Avoid Them

Indian students pursuing their medical dream abroad are often duped in several ways. We caution you against some of them

Indian students studying abroad

Every year, more than 10,000 Indian students go to countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Georgia, Nepal, Ukraine, Armenia, Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan among others to pursue an undergraduate medical courses. Education counsellors – often acting as commission agents for these foreign colleges – promise the moon to these students, thereby risking their careers.

As per medical education norms in India, students pursuing undergraduate medical courses abroad are required to pass a screening test for them to practice medicine in India. Many students are not allowed to sit for the test as they get admission in violation of these norms. In several cases, students have to drop out and return because they don’t get what they are promised by the education coordinators in India.  
The National Medical Commission – India’s medical education regulator -- enacted a regulation on November 18, 2021, imposing several conditions on students wanting to study abroad. No country in the world fulfils all the conditions.
However, these regulations have been challenged in the Delhi High Court so all admissions after November 18, 2021, are subject to the final verdict of the High Court. If the regulations are quashed, students will get relief else they will not be able to take the screening tests.
But there are many other ways by which students with a dream to study abroad are duped and misled. 
Candidates who fail in NEET get admission abroad

According to the current norm in India, if a candidate is unsuccessful in the National Eligibility Cum Employment Test (NEET), he is not eligible to pursue MBBS. However, there are many colleges abroad that in collusion with education counsellors offer admission to such candidates.

“Such candidates cannot sit for the screening test in India upon completion of their undergraduate courses and cannot become doctors. Such students waste their career as well as parents’ hard-earned money,” an education counsellor said requesting anonymity.

“Interestingly, several colleges in many of these countries are owned and run by Indians. They know the legalities in India and are able to give many of them a slip," he added.
He further says that since NEET started in India in 2016, many students who failed the NEET were sent abroad where many of them are still studying.
Studying in the Caribbean Islands in the name of US education
As Caribbean Islands are part of the United States of America, they follow a similar medical education system as the US. However, many colleges have substandard teaching methods and poor education infrastructure.
Many such colleges try to attract Indian students in the name of admission to ‘US’ colleges.  
“Most parents expect similar standards of teaching in the Caribbean as in other renowned US colleges. The reality is, however, far from their expectations. Poor infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and inferior teaching methods disappoint students, forcing many of them to drop out in the middle of the courses,” said a counselor dealing with a top Caribbean college.
Refusing to be quoted in the story, he added, “Many of such coordinators are my friends and we feel bad for the parents when we see them being duped.”
Over-admission mars quality of training

Counsellors often lure many middle-class parents by showing them the comparative fee structure of colleges and advising them to go for low fee colleges. Parents aren’t aware that the quality of education and infrastructure are severely compromised in such colleges.
“Regulatory framework to fix the number of seats in colleges in accordance with the available infrastructure and faculty is extremely poor in many countries. Many colleges admit as many students as they can to bring down education cost thereby compromising the quality of education,” said a counsellor working for colleges in Ukraine.
Candidates kept in dark about climatic conditions, language of teaching

In certain parts of the world, climatic conditions pose a big challenge for Indian students to stay for the whole year. For instance, the Siberian region in Russia becomes so cold during winters that Indian students fall sick and drop out. Counsellors, obviously, don’t warn about such extreme conditions.

Similarly, in many colleges, the medium of teaching is not English. They are bilingual where the majority of instructions are given in the local language. “Many students drop out because counsellors get them admitted in such colleges where the medium of teaching is both English and well as a local language,” said another counsellor.

Many students studying abroad say that they are taught local languages in the initial semesters but that’s not enough to take classroom instructions in that language. 
Financial opaqueness an additional burden

Counsellors undervalue the base currency to show parents a lower cost of education. They also don’t include expenses like insurance, one time charges, etc. which makes the education cost looks very cheap.

“When they go abroad and come to know the real cost, they fail to cope with their financial inability. I know many such parents who have lost lakhs of rupees as they found abroad education unaffordable after sending off their wards,” said a counsellor.

Some counsellors also say that many students who fail to become a doctor after completing their medical education abroad due to several reasons become education counsellors.
"When the focus is diverted from seeking education to get material gains, students become agents,” said an agent. 
Candidates don’t get the internship, clinical exposure

Medicine Education is incomplete without practical learning through adequate patient exposure. All the clinical and non-clinical learnings if not tried upon patients will always result in incomplete knowledge.
In some countries, population density is very less which leads to an extremely low level of patient exposure. Also, different climatic conditions often expose students to different health disorders when going abroad. 
Many counsellors say that in some countries, the local population is not comfortable getting physically examined by foreign students or interns making the most important part of an internship, a mere farce.
One more important factor to note is that some countries don't even offer internship opportunities in hospitals as they have very high students intake and not enough infrastructure to accommodate all of them. These students upon their return to India find it difficult to compete with other students and are not able to clear their screening test (FMGE exams) in multiple attempts.