Thousands of international students choose to study in Ukraine each year, but the current Russian invasion has meant an exodus of students instead.
Some are still figuring out how to get home safely, while others are relieved to be back on home soil, or out of the conflict area in neighbouring countries.
For many years, enrolment of international students in Ukraine has risen dramatically as many have opted to study in Ukraine for various reasons.
According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, there were approximately 80,000 international students from 158 countries based in Ukraine in 2020. Most international students based in Ukraine originate from India, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Nigeria.
We take a look at some of the reasons international students choose to study in Ukraine before the war:
1) Affordable tuition and cost of living
Many international students choose to study in Ukraine to reap the rewards of a comparatively cheaper education without compromising its quality. This includes both tuition fees and living costs.
Among the most common fields of study for international students include science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees such as MBBS and Bachelor of Surgery.
According to StudyinUkraine.site, the average cost of an MBBS only ranged between 4,000 US dollars to US$5,000 annually, significantly lower than other popular study destinations such as Australia (between US$25,000 to US$75,000) per year as well as UK (between US$15,000 to US$60,000) per year.
A 2020 report published by the Ukraine State Centre for International Students said international students spent approximately US$6,000 to US$8,000 annually in tuition fees and living costs, per person.
In the same year, CEO World reported that Ukraine ranked 107th of 123 most expensive countries in the world, allowing more financial freedom for international students.
2) Feasible student visa requirements
Besides affordability, Ukraine’s plain sailing student visa requirements makes it easier for prospective international students to transition into their host country smoothly.
Student visas are particularly easy to obtain among students from Commonwealth of Independent (CIS) States, such as Azerbaijan and Moldova. Additional support regarding student visas is given to students from non-CIS countries.
3) Accredited courses
Dating back to the Soviet era, the Ukrainian government have invested heavily in the education sector of their economy, with a concerted effort to increase enrolment numbers of prospective international students, particularly from newly independent African countries.
Many courses obtained from tertiary institutions in Ukraine by international bodies such as European Council, UNESCO, WHO, especially for its medical science and engineering courses.
4) Gateway to European Residency
According to the Eastern European Universities Association (EEUA), diplomas certified from Ukraine are applicable in any country in the world.
This has been made possible as Ukraine is a member of the Hague and Lisbon Committee, which has declared to simplify the document legalisation process which recognises qualifications certified by higher education institutions in Ukraine.
Ukraine has also partnered with the Bologna Declaration in 2005, which publicly recognises its degree certifications as being equally valid and applicable to over 40 countries in Europe, according to the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
This means international students in Ukraine can further their study or career route in the EU, which increases their chance of securing residency in the EU, US, Australia and other countries.
5) Outstanding teaching quality
International students who gain entry into the leading universities in Ukraine have access to high-quality lecturers and research facilities, particularly in the field of medicine and the sciences.
Students are not only guided with theoretical knowledge but are given practical training too to equip them with the skills they require in their chosen career path.
Up until the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the former Soviet nation is renowned for its hospitality as well as strong tolerance towards race, religion, creed and political beliefs.
7) Experience and the opportunity to travel
The most rewarding aspects of studying in Ukraine would be to experience a different culture, the ability to network and expand their social circle.
Ukraine, which borders five countries, makes travelling to neighbouring countries easier for international students during the holidays.