Number of international students are steadily rising in this Eastern European country
Aerial view of Kiev, Ukraine. Source: Shutterstock

Some countries that have held long-standing reputations for attracting hordes of international students currently face uncertain times – including the likes of the US and UK.

The US has seen a decline of 6.6 percent in the Trump era due to certain factors such as tightening of work visa regulations and hostility towards foreigners.

In the UK, the upcoming Brexit could potentially spike tuition fees for European students, making it more difficult for international students to study in the country.

Considering that the international student market is booming globally, many other countries are slowly and steadily rising in terms of attracting these students.

One such country is Ukraine. While it has been on the list of potential choices for many international students looking to receive a more affordable medical degree, it has never really been considered a serious contender in the race.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the Ukraine government’s student recruitment efforts these past few decades is now paying off.

Recent data released by the Ukrainian State Center for International Education has revealed that the country has seen a 13 percent growth in international student numbers in 2018, with 75,605 international students currently enrolled, the highest growth percentage to date.

International students who study in Ukraine are mainly from 154 countries; the top five being India, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Nigeria.

But why exactly are they choosing Ukraine?

The draw for many international students looking to study in this Eastern European country is the low cost of living and tuition, especially when compared to other popular study abroad countries.

The quality yet affordable cost for medical-related degrees is also a top reason for aspiring students.

Approximately half of all international learners who choose to study in Ukraine are enrolled for medical-related degrees such as medicine, pharmacy, healthcare and dentistry.

The top three most popular universities for international students in Ukraine are Kharkiv National Medical University, V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University and Odessa National Medical University.

Kharkiv National Medical University, the institution with the highest number of international students in Ukraine. Source: ProductofUkraine

Other popular degree choices include management, computer sciences, oil and gas engineering, and secondary education.

Most students head to Ukraine for Bachelor and Master’s Degrees, with less than one percent studying for a postgraduate qualification.

The attractive qualities of studying in Ukraine are made touted by the government through its various methods of recruiting international students.

These include recruitment agencies that connect education providers to the services of private third-party agents in Ukraine and abroad that are responsible for the majority of incoming international students.

As Inside Higher Ed explains, “Students pay fees for these services. A specific feature of these organization is that their involvement does not end after enrollment; most of the time they support students during the whole period of their stay in Ukraine.”

Word of mouth and a strong reputation is also a major factor, as graduate success stories and the sharing of their positive experiences promotes the country to their peers, friends and relatives.

It’s not a perfect education system, of course, just like others around the world, but the country is taking steps to improve it.

Inside Higher Ed wrote, “concerns about the quality of education persist due to issues of corruption that, despite the dedication of resources and efforts to eliminate it, still remains a problem. The system of higher education quality assurance is undergoing reform with the hope of improvement in this area.”

While Ukraine might be deemed  a small player compared to international student giants like the US, Australia and China, it attracts a significant number of students looking to receive a quality education but can’t afford the higher fees and living costs in the more popular study abroad countries.

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