SQUEEZED OUT by the competition at home, Indian students may be increasingly tapping medical colleges overseas but, overall, less than 15 per cent of them clear the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), the mandatory test to obtain a licence to practice in India. And of those successful, chances are most of them are either from Bangladesh or Mauritius — not among the most favoured destinations.
This is the key finding of an analysis by the National Board of Examinations, which conducts the FMGE. The Board tracked the 61,708 Indian students who graduated from foreign medical institutions between 2015 and 2018.
Only 14.2 per cent (8,764) cleared the test and the pass rates were dismal for students from colleges in China, Russia and Ukraine.
Of the total number of students that appeared for the test, 87.6 per cent (54,055) were from colleges in seven countries: China, Russia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The data shows that 52 per cent (81 of 154) students from Mauritius cleared the test, 27.11 per cent (343 of 1,265) from Bangladesh and 17.68 per cent from Nepal (1,042 of 5,894).
The success rate for students from colleges in China was 11.67 per cent (2,370 of 20,314), Russia 12.89 per cent and Ukraine 15 per cent (see chart).
According to Dr Vinod Paul, member (health), NITI Ayog, the data has been made public to help candidates and parents take informed decisions while choosing a medical college abroad. China, Russia and Ukraine are among the traditional favourites for Indian students.
“The candidates, and their parents and families, must know that the training quality in a majority of foreign institutions is not optimum, specifically in the context of knowledge and skill benchmarks required for practice in India. Therefore, they should think carefully… it is unfortunate that so many of them have to simply sit out after getting a foreign qualification. This is a matter of serious concern,” said Paul.
Currently, there are close to 77,000 MBBS seats in India. “We are making huge efforts to enhance training opportunities in our own country. We are committed to increasing the capacity in India to 1 lakh seats in the not-so-distant future,” said Paul.
Indian students have also been pursuing medical courses in Saudi Arabia, Guyana, Cayman Islands, Libya and Pakistan.
The students who pursued courses in Bangladesh and cleared FMGE include 83.33 per cent (10 of 12) from University of Rajshahi, 64.29 per cent (9 of 14) from Sir Saimullah medical College and 56.14 per cent (32 of 57) from Dhaka University.
They also include 42.11 per cent (8 of 19) from Rajshahi Medical College, 37.50 per cent (33 of 88) from Jahurol Islam Medical College, 34.69 per cent (34 of 98) from Medical College for Women and Hospital, Dhaka, 33.33 per cent (18 of 54) from Dhaka National Medical College and 30.49 per cent (25 of 82) from Kumudini Women’s Medical College and Hospital.
Those who cleared the exam after studying in Mauritius include 66.13 per cent (41 of 62) from Anna Medical College and Research Centre and 43.48 per cent (40 of 92) from Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam Medical College.
Another country with a better success rate is Nepal with B P Koirala Institute of Health Sciences 41.84 per cent (100 of 239) and Manipal College of Medical Sciences 28.57 per cent (162 of 567).
According to estimates, a medical course can cost over Rs 30 lakh for five years in Bangladesh, over Rs 40 lakh in Mauritius and around Rs 30-50 lakh in Nepal.
Of the top destinations, some of the better success rates among Chinese institutions were from Jinzhou Medical College with 28.9 per cent (35 of 121), Xiamen Medical University with 22.14 per cent (60 of 271), Nanchag University with 20.20 per cent (81 of 401) and Nanfang Medical University with 20.24 per cent (17 of 84). A Chinese medical course can cost upwards of Rs 20 lakh.
Among Russian colleges, Tambov State University had 41.18 per cent (14 of 34), Nizhni Novgorod State Medical Academy 35.90 per cent (14 of 39), Crimean Federal University 26.92 per cent (84 of 312) and Smolensk State Medical Academy 23.8 per cent (345 of 1,449).
Depending on the location, a medical course from Russia costs around Rs 20 lakh for six years, excluding living expenses.
Among Ukrainian institutions, students from Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University had a success rate of 34.47 per cent (131 of 380) and Bukovinian State Medical University 29.52 per cent (31 of 105). A course in Ukraine costs over Rs 20 lakh.
Once the National Medical Commission (NMC) take charge, the MBBS exit examination will become a three-in-one test serving as the licentiate examination for Indian graduates, FMGE for foreign graduates and an entrance test for PG medical courses. This is likely to take at least three years to come into force.