Less than 12 per cent of Indian students who obtained a Chinese medical degree between 2015-18 cleared the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE), a new analysis by the National Board of Examinations (NBE) has found. The FMGE is a mandatory test to obtain a licence to practice medicine upon returning to India.
As previously reported by The Indian Express, the NBE tracked 61,708 Indian students who graduated from foreign medical institutions across various countries between 2015 and 2018. In China, of the 20,310 students in 86 medical universities or colleges, only 2,369 students or 11.67 per cent passed the FMGE, the analysis found. The FMGE pass percentage is slightly higher — 12.17 per cent — for students who graduated from Chinese universities authorised to admit international students for an MBBS degree in English.
Rashi Patel (L) cleared the FMGE last December scoring 186 on 300, while Mrinalini KVSS had launched into full time preparation towards the end of her internship year at Cangzhou. Photos from June/July 2019. pic.twitter.com/pfcN4j4kr3
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Annually, China’s Ministry of Education releases an approved list of medical universities that can accept international students. For this academic year, the list contains 45 medical universities across China, with 3,370 seats on offer. However, rough estimates say there are 214 universities across China where Indian medical students study.
Numbers highlight need for reform
China has been offering undergraduate medical courses in English for 15 years and, through a combination of hearsay and an informal network of private agents, thousands of aspiring doctors in India have opted for a Chinese medical degree. Such an analysis reveals that only a fraction of the students pass the Indian eligibility test after their course is over. The abysmal numbers highlight the need for much-needed reform on both sides.
Of the 14,702 Indian students across 42 of the 45 approved universities, only 1,790 cleared the FMGE between 2015-18. Fudan University, known to be one of the leading universities in China, was not included in the analysis. Further, Wuhan University, which attracts many students from South India, recorded a pass percentage of less than 10, while Jinzhou Medical University was among the highest with 28.93 per cent.
“Many students feel that FMGE is not a tough exam. If they had studied in an Indian university, it would have been easier to clear. The standards of FMGE are based on the focus of Indian curriculum. Students felt that if there was extensive practical training and their internship year was well-spent, it would be easier to crack FMGE,” Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies Associate Fellow Madhurima Nundy told The Indian Express.
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Nundy added that the “quality of medical education in China and the quality of Indian students emerging from these universities is clearly a matter of concern for both governments”.
Calling for coordination between stakeholders on both sides, she said: “Some positive developments have taken place in the past two years, but there needs to be a sustained effort to keep these checks in place. This also helps contextualise the process of student mobility to study medicine abroad and undo the negative perceptions and prejudices that have been created of students who return and struggle to find their ground.”
She said students returning disappointed, stressed and dejected has implications for the quality of doctors practising in India. “Students cannot be held responsible for choosing to go to China. This speaks of systems that are not in place back home,” she said.