Medicine is one of the most popular careers paths across the world, and the journey to becoming a doctor typically starts with gaining an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) degree.
Unfortunately, there is a drastic difference between the number of MBBS seats available in India and the number of applicants. Last year, there were nearly 13 lakh students attempting NEET for admission to approximately 60,000 seats. That amounts to nearly 22 students competing for a single seat!
According to the Medial Council of India (MCI), there are 494 recognized colleges in India that offer MBBS courses, with a total of 63,050 seats. In comparison, there are 407 additional institutes located across the globe that are recognized by the MCI for MBBS courses
Couple all this with the considerable cost of MBBS in India at private institutes (the same degree is often cheaper internationally!) and the allure of travelling abroad, and you won’t be surprised to see that MBBS from abroad is becoming a popular option today.
Advantages of Pursuing an MBBS from Abroad
There are multiple benefits of pursuing an MBBS degree from abroad. Here are the most important ones.
1. Less Dependence on NEET Rank
Although from 2018 onwards the highly competitive NEET entrance exam has become compulsory for applying to MBBS courses internationally, the competition will still be considerably less compared to Indian institutes. There are nearly 3 times as many students applying for the MBBS course in India as the number of available seats, and the competition is cutthroat as admission takes place on the basis of rank secured. In comparison, students pursuing MBBS abroad have minimal requirements in terms of NEET ranking.
2. Lower Costs Compared to Private Indian Institutes
Government medical colleges in India are undoubtedly affordable, however, the private medical colleges are expensive, with costs around Rs. 45 lakh to pursue an MBBS degree. In comparison, an MBBS degree in a foreign destination like China, Russia or the Philippines would cost less than Rs. 30 lakh, based on the specific country. A medical degree in the US meanwhile would cost up to Rs. 70 lakh. Also, there are many hidden costs involved in studying at a private medical college in India, which can be eliminated by studying abroad where the costs are largely up front.
3. High Quality of Education
Institutes that are recognised by the MCI and also meet the local standard of education regulations generally offer top quality education to MBBS students. As compared to domestic institutes, medical colleges abroad face extensive censure to maintain quality standards. However, it’s best to verify the ranking and/or reviews of any institution you are considering applying to.
4. International Exposure
Studying abroad is a learning experience in itself, regardless of the course, as you learn about a new culture and how to adapt to a new environment. Specifically for an MBBS course, studying abroad gives exposure to a variety of medical conditions, along with advanced technology, state-of-the-art apparatus, and amenities. Apart from teachers, you will learn from interacting with students from different nationalities as well.
Challenges in Pursuing an MBBS from Abroad
Apart from the benefits of completing an MBBS degree internationally, there are a few challenges too:
1. College Recognition
Medical colleges are mushrooming everywhere, inside India and internationally, and not all of them are recognised. It is essential to thoroughly research any medical college you are considering to apply to, so that you can verify its recognition in its own country and in India. Visit the Medical Council of India website to confirm if the college you’re interested in is recognised by the MCI. Also, check that your prospective medical school is recognised by WHO (World Health Organisation). A degree from an unrecognised institute will most likely not be of any use in your career.
2. License to Practice
If you complete your MBBS degree outside of India, you will be required to pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) screening test in order to register with the MCI or any state medical council and practice medicine in India. The test is conducted twice a year by the National Board of Examinations for Indian nationals and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). FMGE is based on the MBBS curriculum and you need to score 50 percent marks to qualify.
3. Practical Training
Learning practical clinical skills is an important part of studying MBBS. However, some international medical colleges have gained notoriety for offering very little practical training to medical students. When you research medical colleges, make sure to check the percentage of practical training as well as reviews from current and previous students so that you do not lose out on learning important practical skills.
4. Local Adjustment
The medium of instruction for MBBS generally remains English for the majority of nations, however, local languages also play an important role. You may also be required to study the local language, for example, Mandarin in China, or Russian in Russia. Staying away from family in a new country for 5+ years is also not easy and you will most likely take time to adjust.
Which Countries Are the Best to Study MBBS for Indian Students?
As medicine is a crucial field in every nation, virtually all countries offer MBBS courses. However, for Indian students, the countries offering MBBS can be classified as those requiring an entrance test and those that do not.
Nations such as the US, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, France, Canada and Malaysia will all require you to take a compulsory local entrance exam for admission to MBBS courses. Eligibility criterion also varies based on the destination country, for example, if you are interested in studying medicine in the US, you need to have completed your graduation (either 4 years course or an honours course) before you can apply for the MBBS entrance exam.
In comparison, countries without entrance exams have been found to be more popular with Indian students seeking an MBBS abroad. Common destinations include China, Germany, Philippines, Nepal, Russia, Ukraine, Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan. These countries offer affordable MBBS courses with an easier admissions process.
Here are some of the popular MCI-recognized universities abroad offering MBBS courses:
Angeles University Foundation
AMA School of Medicine
Bicol Christian College of Medicine
Ryazan State Medical University
Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry
Russian National Research Medical University
Odessa National Medical University
Sumy State University, Sumy
Kharkiv National Medical University
Eligibility Criteria for MBBS Abroad
The exact eligibility for admission to an MBBS course internationally would largely depend on the specific medical college in consideration. However, there are a few general eligibility requirements to pursue an MBBS degree abroad.
Your age should be above 17 years as of the 31st December of the year you are seeking admission for.
You should have completed Class 12th with the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English.
Minimum aggregate percentage of Physics, Chemistry and Biology must be at least 50 percent.
From 2018 onwards, you should have cleared NEET.
Costs of Studying an MBBS Abroad
The costs to study abroad depend upon the tuition fees, cost of living and duration of course. An MBBS course generally completes in 5-6 years, including compulsory internships.
Here is a look at an estimated total of the expenses for pursuing MBBS in various countries:
China: Rs. 20 lakh
Germany: Rs. 24 lakh
Philippines: Rs. 25 lakh
Russia: Rs. 23 lakh
Ukraine: Rs. 25 lakh
Bangladesh: Rs. 25 lakh
Kyrgyzstan: Rs. 17 lakh
US: Rs. 60-65 lakhs
In India, the cost for an MBBS degree from government institutes is typically less than Rs. 4 lakh. However, the cost of an MBBS degree from a private institute in India can range around Rs 45 lakh.
Is Studying MBBS Abroad Worth It?
Investing in a degree that will shape your career is a good idea, but you should also consider all of the available options. Securing admission to the MBBS course in a government medical college in India is not easy, and if you miss out, you still have many options.
You can consider studying abroad which would likely cost less than an MBBS degree from a private medical college in India, and have your pick of a wide variety of nations and institutes that offer a recognized MBBS degree. Remember, research is key, to ensure that you join an institute that is reputed and will provide you with the required knowledge and training.
If you are unclear about your path, consider taking career counselling to help you decide on your career goals and how to achieve them.