Many third-year Indian students were expelled from Ukraine’s medical universities last year because they didn’t pass the Krok exam that allows all undergraduates to study medicine in Ukraine.
Now these Indians have to return home or repeat the year, losing time and money.
Foreign students blamed Ukraine for their misfortune. They said that the minimum passing grade for the exam should be lower during the pandemic when all classes are held online.
At their request, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health has lowered the passing grade from 60.5% to 55.5%, but the students asked to reduce it even more — to 50.5%.
The ministry refused to reduce it further, saying that the Krok exam evaluates basic knowledge of medicine, thus all future medical workers must pass it to be able to treat people.
The response from the ministry evoked a strong reaction from many foreign students who go to Ukraine for cheap education and diplomas that are valued abroad. They said Ukraine just uses them to make money but gives no support.
During the quarantine, many Indian students are stuck in Ukraine and have to study online because local universities closed their doors.
For international medical undergraduates, it is a challenge — they face a language barrier and lack lab work, according to Saurav Kumar, consultant at the Runfast Medical Educare firm that helps Indians to apply to Ukrainian universities.
Students say that during the quarantine it is harder to prepare for the Krok exam that has always been difficult for them.
The test contains 200 questions that evaluate the basic knowledge of medicine, pharmacy and dentistry. Foreign students can pass the exam in Ukrainian, English or Russian languages. Questions for international and local students are the same.
Even before the pandemic foreign students had been striking against Krok, but in 2020 they became more persistent.
In November, they started to protest near the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, demanding to reduce the minimum passing grade for the Krok exam by 10%. During the protests that lasted for nearly five days, Indian students told the Kyiv Post that the exam had been constantly postponed due to the quarantine restrictions, and when the date was announced, they didn’t have enough time to prepare.
The Krok exam for third-year students, which usually takes place in April-June each year, was delayed until Oct. 29–30. Foreign students said that the Ukrainian Ministry of Health told them about the upcoming exam only two days in advance.
Many students have retaken the exam but with no success. Now they will lose up to $5,000 they have already paid to study medicine in Ukraine in 2020-2021.
Many Indian students are angry and say that Ukraine needn’t worry so much about the results — most of the Indian will go back to India for work.
“We don’t want to stay in Ukraine,” said Mohamed Amine, Ukraine’s medical student from Mumbai. “We want to come back home where we can secure a well-paid job.”
Amine said that if students who were expelled want to return to Ukraine to continue studying after bad test results, they have to apply for a visa again and many are forced into paying bribes to receive it. Kumar agrees that students pay for a visa more than it actually costs.
Discouraged by that, many students decided to continue their studies in other Eastern European countries, including Russia. When other Indian students asked them whether they should apply for Ukrainian universities, many didn’t recommend them to do so and said that Ukraine just wants to earn money on them.
Foreign students are profitable for Ukraine. In 5-6 years of study, foreign students collectively bring nearly $3 billion to the country’s budget, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Education.
Students of medical universities, the most popular among foreigners, usually pay the most — $8,500 a year. Thus Ukraine encourages them to apply.
After the protests of foreign students, the Ministry of Health reduced the passing grade for the Krok exam by 5 percentage points to “morally support them and give psychological relief,” according to Iryna Mykychak, deputy minister of health.
However, the professors of local medical universities are not pleased with this decision. They said that Ukraine should evaluate all students fairly because the standards of education in the country are high.
“Exams are essential for students because, after university, they will work in real hospitals and every mistake will cost a life and health of a patient,” said Yuriy Kuchyn, chancellor of Ukraine’s Bogomolets National Medical University.
Besides, during the quarantine, students had more time to prepare for the exam and pass it with flying colors, said Lesya Oliynyk, head of the organization responsible for medical exams in Ukraine.
Oliynyk told the Kyiv Post that, in 2020, only 9,757 out of 83,561 medical students didn’t pass the exam, which is 4% less than in 2019.
Only 169 Indian students from 28 local universities didn’t pass Krok in 2020 — it is 0.67% of all the international students in Ukraine.
That is why Oliynyk is surprised that they protest. She said that some foreign students just use the quarantine as an excuse to study less.
Ukrainian students, she said, do not complain about the passing grade for the exam.
Ukrainian medical students who study with Indian students and who talked with the Kyiv Post said that, to pass Krok, undergraduates have to just study diligently. And during the quarantine, students could study at home using a mobile app that contains over 20,000 questions, undergraduates said.
“The Krok exam simply helps me to revise everything I learned from the basic subjects,” said Karyna Pryvarska, a third-year student at the Lviv National Medical University.
Indian Ambassador to Ukraine Partha Satpathy also thinks that the Krok exam is a proper way to evaluate medical students.
Indian students come to Ukraine to study medicine primarily because the quality of education and the degree they get here are good and it’s logical that there’s a test to pass to prove one is worthy of this degree, Satpathy told the Kyiv Post.
“Finally face it, it’s a doctor who is going to look at the patient,” he said. “And you want the doctor to be fully qualified.”
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