International fourth-year students in Ukraine’s medical universities are demanding an easing of the minimum passing grade for the Krok exam that all undergraduates have to pass to study medicine in Ukraine, foreign students announced during the protests near the Ukrainian Ministry of Health on Nov. 17.
Amid the pandemic, students are struggling as all classes are held online and exams are constantly postponed.
For example, the Krok exam for third-year students, which usually takes place in April-June each year, has been delayed until Oct. 29-30, 2021, due to the quarantine restrictions. The Ukrainian Ministry of Health told foreign undergraduates about the upcoming exam only two days in advance.
International undergraduates who spoke with the Kyiv Post during the protest on Nov. 17 said that if they don’t pass the Krok exam — which was supposed to be held in the previous academic year — they will be expelled and lose nearly $4,500 they already paid to study medicine in Ukraine this year.
That is why foreign students ask to reduce the passing grade for the Krok exam from the current 60.5 % to 50.5%. They said that Ukraine’s Ministry of Health has already reduced the pass mark for senior students who take the test during their last year of study.
“It would be fair to do the same for everyone,” students said.
When talking to the Kyiv Post on Nov. 17, the head of the organization responsible for medical exams in Ukraine, Lesya Oliynyk, said that the Ministry of Health will soon announce that it will reduce the passing grade for students. However, Oliynyk disapproves. She said that in 2020, students passed the test with better results than the year before and Ukraine should evaluate them fairly because the standards of education in the country are high.
Ukrainian students, she said, do not complain about the passing grade for the exam.
The Krok exam for third-year students evaluates the basic knowledge of science in Ukraine but it is not accredited abroad that is why foreign students said they don’t need it.
“Ukraine just wants to make money out of us,” one Indian student who refused to disclose her name told the Kyiv Post.
In Ukraine, foreign medical students pay four times more for their studies than Ukrainian students and also have to pay for rent and food. The tuition fee wasn’t reduced even during the coronavirus pandemic when many students stayed in crowded dormitories and studied online.
International undergraduates said that it was ineffective because they don’t speak Ukrainian and many professors have language barriers too.
Students said that during the quarantine it became even harder to prepare for the exam that has always been difficult for them.
“Every year international students go on a strike to reduce the passing percentage for Krok exam because (the test) includes completely new questions beyond (students’) knowledge and syllabus,” said Sushil Kumar, co-founder of the Wise education group, which helps Indians apply to Ukrainian universities.
Although the Krok exam aims to evaluate the quality of education, the way how Ukraine managed it amid the pandemic hurts its international image and undermines the enrollment for the next academic year, said Olena Shapovalova, the head of Ukraine’s State Center for International Education.
Over 80,000 foreign students from 158 countries are currently studying in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Education.
For foreigners, Ukraine is an affordable choice, said Kumar. Ukrainian medical diploma is recognized in many countries abroad.
“We don’t want to stay in Ukraine, we want to come back home where we can secure a well-paid job,” said Mohamed Amine, Ukraine’s medical student from Mumbai.
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