Published: 11th April 2022
Why have Kerala students opted to pursue medical education in countries like Barbados, Curacao?
As per the latest statistics, Ukraine with 322 students tops the chart as the most favoured country for overseas studies from Kerala, followed by China at 244
Since the start of the registration of the students from Kerala who are studying in various universities in foreign countries, NORKA (Non Resident Keralite's Affairs) Roots has received a total of 1,607 applications for student ID cards. The service was started in April 2020 in the aftermath of the pandemic that saw a huge number of students from the state getting stranded in countries all over the world. As per the latest statistics, Ukraine with 322 students tops the chart as the most favoured country for overseas studies from Kerala, followed by China at 244 and Canada with 174. However, the statistics don't give the actual numbers.
The numbers are even more, said Riyas who runs an education consultancy in Kochi. "My consultancy alone has tied up with foreign universities for over 5,000 courses. There are many such education consultancies operating in the state. So, one can just guess the number of students who are studying in other countries," he said. According to him, NORKA's ID card service will be very helpful for students studying abroad. "At present, we submit a list of students with the Indian embassy in that particular country," he added.
According to a NORKA official, the student ID card services were started after the COVID-19 pandemic made landfall. "However, once we started getting the data on students studying outside the country, we realised how big their numbers were. Once a data bank on the number of students going abroad for studies is created, we will be able to identify the migration pattern," he said.
"The data collection has thrown up another interesting fact regarding the student migration pattern. Until now, we believed that students were going only to a fixed number of countries like the UK, the US, Canada, China, Russia or some of the European countries. However, on analysing the course destinations marked in the applications for the ID cards, we have found that Malayalee students are studying in countries that have never been thought of as education hubs," said the NORKA official.
As per the data published by NORKA, students from Kerala are also studying countries like Curacao, Iceland and Mexico. According to Riyas, his consultancy has recently helped eight students register for a university in Barbados in the Caribbean Islands. "The other countries that have entered the list this year are Slovenia and Slovakia. Students are applying even to universities in Vietnam," he added.
"The reasons are many," said Devanaraynan Namboothiri, an MBBS student at a university in Sumi in Ukraine. He said, "The most important factor is the fees. Compared to the UK, the US, Canada and the European countries like France and Germany, the fee structure in Balkan countries and also the former Soviet Union countries is very less." Another reason students migrate to other countries for studies is to experience a different culture, he added. "Also, the inability to get a seat even after cracking the entrance examinations in India is another factor," he added.
According to Riyas, the country which has the lowest fee structure for the MBBS course is Kyrgyzstan. "A student can complete their MBBS course in just Rs 20 lakh unlike in the UK, the US or Canada where the cost incurred for a single academic year comes to around Rs 38 lakh," he added. Even Bangladesh is finding a lot of takers, said Riyas. The migration of students to foreign countries is not happening for just MBBS courses. "Nursing, MBA and other courses too are being pursued by students in foreign countries," said the NORKA official.
Students registered with NORKA from April 2020 to April 8, 2022
(Selected countries from the list of 51 published by Norka)
Ukraine - 322
China - 244
Canada - 174
United Kingdom - 112
Moldova - 85
UAE - 81
Georgia - 63
Russia - 58
Germany - 42
United States - 41
Kyrgyzstan - 28
New Zealand - 26
Australia - 26
Saudi Arabia - 20
Amenia - 18
Italy - 18
Belarus - 16
Kuwait - 12
Malaysia - 11
Curacao - 1