Planning for MBBS abroad? Know these first

Admission to MBBS in India in becoming increasingly difficult, given the disproportionate skew in number of aspirants against the number of seats, especially in Govt colleges.  Approx 1.4 Million (14 lakh) aspirants vie for nearly 60,000 seats every year, of which roughly only 50% (33,000 seats) are Govt. seats.  That translates to 42 candidates competing for each government MBBS seat!  The cost of getting admissions into private MBBS seats, meanwhile, is typically out of reach for most candidates since it sets back the parent by at least Rs.60-80 lacs on an average. 

Chasing the MBBS dream abroad

The low number of Govt. seats and high cost of private medical seats is now driving parents to consider overseas MBBS options for their children.  And in that  many Indians tend to look for relatively cheaper options in countries based in Eastern Europe, Russia, Nepal and China. The overall cost of medical education ranges between 20-35 lacs in these countries.  At the surface, it sounds lucrative, especially if a career in medicine is what the child is passionate about.  However, as we will explain below, the journey is not without its pitfalls. 

FMGE

While pursuing an MBBS from Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Georgia etc.) or China is understandable from the point of view of affordability, it does have a flip side, and a rather serious one – the abysmal low success rate in FMGE (Foreign Medical Graduate Examination) – which is required to be cleared by such foreign MBBS degree holders in order to get a license to practice Medicine in India.  

The FMGE screening test is mandatory for an Indian citizen/Overseas citizen of India possessing a primary medical qualification awarded by any medical institution outside India who is desirous of getting provisional or permanent registration with Medical Council of India or any State Medical Council. However, note that a candidate seeking provisional or permanent registration shall NOT have to qualify the Screening Test if he/she holds an Under Graduate and Post Graduate medical qualification from Australia/Canada/New Zealand/United Kingdom/United States of America.

The FMGE screening test is held twice a year in June and December. As per MCI (Medical Council of India) rules, a candidate must score at least 50% marks in the FMGE to pass the test.  And getting through FMGE is not easy. 

Reality bites

Now, consider the data published recently in Times of India about success rate in FMGE in 2016-17:

- Educated in China : 6.92% Passed FMGE (261 out of 3774)

- Educated in Russian Federation : 8.93% Passed FMGE (222 out of 2487)

- Educated in Ukraine : 10.34% Passed FMGE (179 out of 1731)

- Educated in Nepal : 11.49% Passed FMGE (158 out of 1375)

- Educated in Krgystan : 7.77% Passed FMGE (80 out of 1029)

- Educated in Georgia : 17.07% Passed FMGE (56 out of 328)

- Educated in Kazakhstan : 5.56% Passed FMGE (14 out of 252)

OVERALL : 8.84% Passed FMGE (970 out of 10976)

As is evident, overall, less than 9% students have been able to clear FMGE. So, while it may be cheaper to pursue the MBBS degree abroad, it is an uphill task to clear the entry gate required to start a practice in India.  Of course one can attempt FMGE multiple times but if less than 10% of applicants qualify, that perhaps gives an indication regarding the quality of the degree received from institutions in these countries.

If not abroad, then what?

There are a couple of drivers behind the decision by parents to send their children to pursue Medicine (MBBS) in these ‘less expensive’ countries:

1. Their children’s fascination for life-sciences career

2. Lack of awareness of good courses in Biology / life-sciences related fields besides MBBS/BDS

We believe that if parents and students are made aware of good opportunities and options in the healthcare and life-sciences areas, besides MBBS & BDS, there could be a potential re-think among many regarding the foreign MBBS option. We have written about some of these options in our blog “Beyond MBBS & BDS : Great Options in PCB After Class 12”. Probably being aware of such options could be a step in the right direction and may help save many students and their parents from undue anxiety and hardships.