Student recruitment: futures unknown for Ukraine, Russia

One of the surprising facts after the Russian invasion of Ukraine was the presence of large numbers of international students trapped there by the war who had difficulties escaping. These students occasionally faced discrimination by the Ukrainian border and transport police.

In studies about international student recruitment and mobility, the emphasis is primarily on South-North mobility to the Anglophone world: the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada and to a few other non-Anglophone countries, such as France and Germany.

But the reality is more diverse, with increasing student mobility to non-Anglophone countries, as the substantive presence of international students in Ukraine as well as in Russia makes clear.

International students in Ukraine

In 2019, Ukraine received over 80,000 international students (a 50% increase since 2011). Twenty-three per cent of the international students come from India (18,429), followed by 10% from Morocco (8,233 students). Around 21.5% of international students are from post-Soviet countries, mostly from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and around 1,200 are from the Russian Federation.

Fifty-one per cent are on masters programmes and 36% on bachelor degree programmes. Others are in preparatory (8.5%) and postgraduate programmes (3.5%).

Medicine is the most popular field of study (32%), followed by medical practice, dentistry, management and pharmacy. This explains why Kharkiv National Medical University is the institution with the most international students and why the Kharkiv region is the most international in the country.

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