Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine some weeks ago, there were at least 80,470 international students studying in Ukrainian higher institutions of learning, recent data has shown.
The data, released by Erudera, an education search platform, shows that about 4,379 Nigerian students were enrolled in Bachelor’s, Master’s, Preparatory courses, Postgraduate studies, and Academic Mobility programmes in the country before the war.
Nigeria came 5th behind India with a total enrolment of 18,429, Morocco 8,233, Azerbaijan 5,470 and Turkmenistan with a total of 5,344 students.
The report drawn from the latest official data, in 2019, by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, shows that between 2011 and 2019, international student enrolment in Ukraine higher institutions increased by 49.9%, from 53,664 to 80,470 students.
It further discloses that about 26,040 (32.3%) international students got enrolled in Ukraine’s higher institutions of learning to study Medicine while about 6,215, making 7.7% of the total number were studying Medical Practice.
Dentistry and Management are ranked third for the most popular study fields, with 5,094 and 3,505 enrollments, respectively.
A total of 2, 492 international students were enrolled in the field of Pharmacy and Industrial Pharmacy making up 3.10% of the total population.
Law is ranked sixth among the most popular study fields, with a total of 2,387 international students enrolled in higher education institutions.
The top Ukrainian university with the most international students was documented as Kharkiv National Medical University, with no fewer than 4,355 enrollments followed by V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University with 4,351 foreign students while the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv is ranked last among the most popular universities for international students in Ukraine, with 1,849 students in total.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered what he said was a “special military operation” against Ukraine on Thursday, February 24. A full-scale invasion followed, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declaring martial law, saying his country would defend itself.
Many Nigerian students in the war-torn country were forced to flee to neighbouring countries for safety.
However, several of them, at the time reported being segregated against, with hundreds of Nigerians and other nationals left to freeze at locations around the Ukraine border after security officials refused to allow them entry into neighbouring countries.
Some of the Nigerians who spoke to SaharaReporters some days after the invasion said some officials labelled them as Russians and almost burnt them to death but for the intervention of some policemen.
“They said we are Russians. This is really getting out of hand. We almost got burnt yesterday, on our way from Lviv to Uzhgorod. It was a policeman that saved the situation,” one of them said.
“We are not allowed into Slovakia. We can get a flight home from Slovakia. Most of our phones are dead. The current situation is that you are denied entry into Slovakia. Someone who managed to enter Slovakia in the middle of the night said no one from Nigeria had reached out to them,” another Nigerian lamented.
However, the Nigerian government, some weeks ago began the evacuation of its students schooling in Ukraine through Romania, Poland and Hungary with the total number of evacuees currently standing at 1,531, as stated in a tweet by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.
Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force is trying to establish air supremacy in the Ukrainian Air Space as the war rages on between the two neighbours. According to the U.N. Human Rights office, which has been tracking civilian casualties, there have been 1,834 civilian casualties in the country – 691 killed and 1,143 injured – a figure the office concedes is probably a significant undercount due to the fighting.