The number of Chinese medical colleges that take in Indian students has more than doubled from 24 in 2007-08 to 50 now ' each with an average intake of about 150 students.
Thanks to aggressive marketing and the cheaper costs of education and living in comparison to Europe, China is fast emerging as the new Russia, which has for long been the favourite overseas destination for IndNU seeking a degree in medicine. Many Chinese colleges teach in English ' even though students are required to pick up some Chinese too for patient interactions.
Sources in the health ministry said that the largest number of students appearing for the Medical Council of India (MCI) screening test every year are with degrees from medical colleges in China. With typical Chinese efficiency, some of these colleges have even picked up the MCI syllabus and are training students for the test that overseas medical graduates must mandatorily clear before practising in India.
"Most foreign students appearing for the MCI screening come from China. Some colleges have dedicated agents acting as facilitators here. Some Chinese colleges have also started taking the MCI syllabus and training students specially for the screening test because they realise nobody will make that kind of investment in the degree if it has no value here," a senior ministry official said.
Tianjin Medical University, which claims a 72 per cent success rate in the MCI screening test, is wooing Indian students aggressively. D N Trivedy of Growell Consultancy, which acts as a facilitator for the university, said, "I have been sending students to Tianjin since 2003. From 2005 onwards, approximately 150 Indian students have joined the university every year. The total cost with tuition fees, hostel and other living expenses for the four-and-a-half-year course plus a yearlong internship is about Rs 22.5 lakh."
The university's dean Guo Fenglin and president Yao Zhi are currently in India to showcase the Chinese medical education infrastructure to potential students.
Dr Kewal Jogadia, who graduated from Qingdao University in 2011, said life in China had been much better than in India. Dr Jogadia's cousin Jolly, who graduated from Tianjin, said the teachers had been helpful and the training of a high level.
But Dr Milan Pandya, who graduated from Zhengzhou University last year, said: "It seemed good while I was there, but I now realise it is not of the standard of Indian medical colleges."