The Definitive Guide to Studying Medicine in Europe

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Welcome to our definitive guide to studying medicine abroad. No doubt you have come to our website because you are thinking about studying medicine in a European country and have a few questions that need answering. In this guide, we have combined ALL the information you will ever need to know on why you should study medicine in Europe, including Frequently Asked Questions, useful links, and tips, hints and reviews from past and present students.




Why is studying medicine abroad so popular?

Study medicine Europe has become very popular as an increasing number of US, Australian, UK and Irish school-leavers decide to study medicine abroad. Admission to medical schools is extremely competitive, and 80% of students who apply will not get a place. For the thousands of students who are unsuccessful in gaining a place on medicine courses in their home country, great opportunities await a little further from home.

Here are just a few of the reasons why students are choosing to study medicine abroad:

  • Many programmes at leading medical universities in Europe  are taught in English
  • Low Tuition fees and and living costs
  • Student grants and loans are available
  • No entrance examinations
  • Lower exam grade entry
  • Quality of education
  • It’s a fun and enriching experience

In our definitive guide to studying medicine abroad, we will cover the following topics:

Why study medicine in Europe?
Which Universities offer medical courses taught in English?
– Bulgaria
– Romania
– Italy
– Spain
What should I consider before I apply?
Study Medicine Abroad – FAQ

Study Medicine Europe In English

Over the last 20 years, many universities across Central Europe have developed excellent reputations for offering education in English.  The majority of medical courses abroad are taught in English, and it’s not just the lectures; textbooks, study resources and project work will also be in English.

Students from outside the UK, Australia and USA will have to take an English-speaking and writing proficiency test, which means that your classmates, wherever they come from, will also speak fluent English. This means that everyone on your medical course will share a common language, so making friends and study buddies will be easy.

The beautiful city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where many students study medicine abroad. Image via
The beautiful city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where many students study medicine abroad. Image via

However, it is critical that you immerse yourself in the language of the country you are in. Whilst you may get to study in English, it is important to realise that your patients might not speak English.  Many medical courses across Central Europe offer intensive language lessons, so by the time students reach clinical years, they are fluent in the local language. This will enable medical students to communicate with patients and to take medical histories. Many universities will ensure that a translator is present during patient consultations, although this will not exempt you from learning the language.

Which Universities offer medical courses taught in English?

Currently there are about 25 universities in Europe that offer medical courses using English as the primary teaching language. Eastern European universities, especially those in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia,have become increasingly prominent amongst English-speaking students who study medicine abroad due to their practical, hands-on teaching methods, quality of teaching and low tuition fees.

Studying Medicine Abroad in Eastern Europe

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has a long-standing reputation in offering quality medical training. Renowned for its traditional methods of teaching, which values hands-on and practical training, it is not surprising that many students are deciding to study here. Bulgari is fast becoming one of the most popular places for studying medicine abroad, and medical students have the advantage of choosing to study in English or in Bulgarian. Many students are also attracted by the low tuition fees and cost of living, which are significantly lower than other EU and EEA countries.

Sofia Medical University

  • Top-ranked medical university in Bulgaria
  • 6 year medicine course taught in English
  • €8000 per year
  • Entry Requirements: A-level / IB (or equivalent) in Biology and Chemistry
  • Application deadline: End of September (it is recommended that non EU / EAA students apply earlier than the deadline)
  • English language proficiency test
  • Term starts in October
  • Apply here

Varna Medical University

  • 6 year medicine course taught in English
  • €8000 per year
  • Entry Requirements: A-level / IB (or equivalent) in Biology and Chemistry
  • Application Deadline: For 2016 intake – 10 September 2016
  • Entrance examination testing knowledge of Biology and Chemistry
  • English language proficiency test
  • Term starts in October
  • Apply here

Plovdiv Medical University

  • Third best medical university in Bulgaria, after Sofia and Varna
  • 6 year medicine course taught in English
  • €8000 per year
  • Financial Aid / Student Loan available
  • Entry Requirements: A-level / IB (or equivalent) in Biology and Chemistry
  • Term starts in September
  • No Entrance Exam
  • Application Deadline: Before completing secondary education
  • Apply here

Pleven Medical University

  • 6 year medicine course taught in English
  • €5500 per year
  • Application Submissions: Between 01 June – 01 September
  • English language proficiency test
  • Academic year for international students starts in mid-Feburary and run until the end of December.
  • Apply here

Bulgaria Living Costs

“It’s cheap as chips,” says Ahmed, a first year medic studying at Plovdiv Medical University. Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, Ahmed shares an insight into life as a student in Bulgaria. He reveals that he spends £50/month (bills included) to live in University Halls, where he shares a dormitory. He spends £30 a week on food and drink, which he says is plenty! Watch his video below.

Romania

Like Bulgaria, Romania has a long-standing history of medical teaching. Medicine has fast become one of the country’s most popular subjects, attracting students from across the world. The General Medical Council stated that the number of doctors on the medical register who gained their medical qualification in Romania has increased from 567 in 2007 to 2,002 by the end of 2012. In Romania, medical students have a choice of learning their course in several different languages, including Romanian, English, French, German and Hungarian.

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There has been vast amounts of publicity around the number of UK students who are now choosing to study medicine abroad. Back in 2013, student Miriam Bourne hit headlines when, despite gaining 3 A’s at A-level in Chemistry, Biology and Geography, was rejected by all of the UK universities she had applied to, including Bristol, Sheffield, Manchester and Keele. Miriam is now studying Medicine at the Ovidius University of Constanta, Romania.

Constanta Medical University

Constanta Medical University is a faculty of Ovidius University of Constanta. Founded in 1990, it is one of the youngest medical faculties in Romania, but also one of the most dynamic and ambitious. It welcomes international medical students from all over the world, and offers high-quality education in medicine in several languages.

  • 6 year medicine course taught in English
  • €4000/ year for EU, EEA and Swiss students.
  • €3600/ year for non-EU students
  • English language proficiency test
  • No entrance examination
  • Admission before completing secondary education
  • Apply here

University of Medicine Iasi

The University of Medicine Iasi is one of Romania’s oldest research and education universities. It is an excellent university and offers students the opportunity to study medicine in English, French and Romanian.

  • 6 year medicine course taught in English or French
  • €3500 / year
  • A-level / IB or equivalent, with good grades in Biology and Chemistry.
  • English language proficiency test
  • Programme starts in October
  • No entrance examination
  • Apply here

University of Arad

Arad Medical School is part of the University of Arad, which is situated in the western region of Romania. The medical school is one of the cheapest in Romania.

  • 6 year medicine course taught in English
  • €3500 / year
  • EU/EEA student can also study on Romanian scholarship provided that they learn first Romanian language and pass admission examination in biology and chemistry with Romanian students.
  • A-level / IB or equivalent, with good grades in Biology and Chemistry.
  • English language proficiency test
  • Basic Biology test in July – August (early application recommended)
  • Admission before completing secondary education
  • Programme starts in October

University of Medicine  and Pharmacy of Craiova

The University of Medicine Craiova is one of the best Romanian medical universities which offers medical study in English.

  • 6 year medicine course taught in English & 2 year Masters Degree Program in Medical Informatics & Biostatistics.
  • €5000 / year for English-taught program.
  • Admission before completing secondary education
  • Apply here

How much does it cost to live in Romania?

Typically, the cost of living in eastern European countries such as Bulgaria or Romania is a third of the average cost you would expect to pay in western Europe. International students can expect living costs between €500 and €600 per month. This would cover accommodation, utility bills, internet access, food, books, travel, spends and other living costs.

Study Medicine Abroad – Southern Europe

As Eastern European universities grow increasingly popular, many Southern European universities have followed suit.  Universities in Italy, Malta and Cyprus offer students, seeking to qualify as a doctor, the opportunity to study in English.

Italy

Italy has a mixture of both public and private universities which offer medical degrees taught in English. The public universities offer means-tested tuition fees which could be between €800 and €3,000 per year. The six public universities in Italy that teach medicine in English are:

International Medical School, University of Milan

  • 6 year medical course
  • Program taught in English
  • Limited enrolment
  • International Medical Admission Test (IMAT – will be held on 16th September 2016 for enrolment in the 2016/17 academic year)
  • Strong academic background in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics
  • Apply here

University of Pavia

  • 6 year medical course
  • Program taught in English
  • Annual tuition fees range from €500-€3600 (based on means test). Students from developing countries who hold study residence permits will qualify automatically for lowest fee bracket.
  • Apply here

Sapienza University of Rome

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  • 6 year medical course
  • Program taught in English
  • Small student intake: 45 places available (35 for EU citizens and 10 for non-EU citizens)
  • Annual tuition fees for EU students €1200/year and €600 for students from developing countries.
  • Apply here

University of Bari Aldo Moro

  • 6 year medical course
  • Program taught in English
  • English language proficiency test
  • International Medical Admission Test (IMAT)
  • Apply here

Entrance to these public universities is extremely competitive (to give you an idea, in 2015 there were 3,918 applicants for 204 places). Students are also required to take an IMAT exam (which is the international version of BMAT). In 2015 this exam took place in September, just before the course started, which proved very difficult for international students.

In 2016 the entrance exam for public universities may be abolished altogether, enabling students to enrol on to the course with no restrictions. However, this could mean that the number of students entering the second year could be severely restricted, with possibly only 10% gaining a place.  

Private universities in Italy, on the other hand,  might offer a much more simple pathway to a medical qualification for students seeking to study medicine abroad in English. However, the fees are higher (€6,850-€15,000 per year, although like the public universities, these fees are also means-tested, and financial aid is sometimes available.

Italy & Bulgaria

From 2016, the Medical University of Sofia are offering students the possibility of taking the first two years of their Bulgarian medical degree in Italy. Students will have the option of studying in either Rome or just outside Milan. Students who are hoping to have a rich and diverse experience studying medicine abroad might be interested in this option. It would also reduce the amount of time spent in Bulgaria.

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Image via

However, in choosing this route, students may feel more pressure to learn Bulgarian in a shorter amount of time, as ultimately, fluency in the local language is required in order to communicate with patients when practising medicine in the clinical years. of training.  This would reduce the amount of time that you would need to spend in Bulgaria. The degree would be awarded by the Medical University of Sofia.

Spain

It is also possible to study medicine in Spain, although the course is taught in a mixture of both English and Spanish. Students attending Cardenal Herrera University in Valencia have the opportunity to study in English for the first two years of their course, before completing the next four years in Spanish.

Living Costs in Spain

Accommodation Living Costs Travel Internet & Phone
Shared room – 400€ Utilities – 80€ Monthly pass (metro + bus) – 50€ Mobile phone + internet
Studio – 700€ Groceries – 150€ 10 trip ticket – 12,5€ Mobile phone – 50€
1 Bedroom apartment – 850€ Eating out – 10€/lunch 1 trip – 1,5€ Internet – 30€
Leisure – 150€

Malta

The University of Malta is the most prestigious teaching institution in Malta. It is publicly funded and welcomes applications from all international, prospective medical students.  

University of Malta

  • Four year Medicine MBBS programme
  • No tuition fees
  • A-levels / IB or equivalent Grade B in Biology and Chemistry
  • Annual application deadline: 31 March
  • Programme starts in October
  • English Language proficiency test

How much does it cost to live in Malta?

On the whole, living costs in Malta are considerably lower than in neighbouring European countries. Malta University gave the following breakdown on what international students could expect to cover monthly living costs. However, this is dependent on your personal lifestyle.

Accommodation: €500 Books, Stationery etc.: €70
Meals: €250 Leisure Activities: €170
Telephone / Wifi: €25 Laundry: €20
Local Transport: €40 Total; €1,075

 

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Study Medicine Europe – Before you apply

Choosing to study medicine abroad is a big decision for students. For all its advantages, there are also some disadvantages; for example, moving away from friends and family to a new country where you have few or no connections. Many students move because they are unable to get medical places at English or Irish universities. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you decide to study abroad. These questions may help you figure out if studying in Europe is right for you:

  • What are your grades?
  • Can you re-sit your exams?
  • Can you take an access course?
  • Would you consider doing another degree (BSc Medical Sciences, for example) and then entering a graduate-entry medical course?
  • Are you prepared to live abroad until you complete your medical training (including FY1 and FY2 years)?

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Will my foreign medical degree be recognised in the UK, US or Australia?

For students contemplating studying medicine abroad, this is a very important consideration. We would advise you to check with the General Medical Council to assess the suitability of the school or university that you have chosen to study medicine abroad.  There are many medical schools around the world that teach international students to a very high standard, and many of the graduates from these medical schools go on to work in both the public and private healthcare sectors in the UK. All medical qualifications that are gained within the European Union are considered to be of equal standing. Any students who have gained medical qualifications outside of the European Union will be required to take professional examinations before working in the UK.

  1. What evidence of qualification will I need to supply to support my application to practise medicine in the UK, US or Australia?

Medical graduates from countries in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, who graduated from a medical school in an EEA country,  are required to provide information on their qualifications upon submitting an application for registration with a license to practise.

The requirements may vary according to the country in which you gained your medical degree, but usually you need to present the following:

  • Your primary medical qualification
  • Your license to practise (if appropriate)

Below are links to the General Medical Council, who provide thorough information on what evidence of qualification is required. Please click on the country where you achieved your primary medical qualification:

  1. Can I start my medical studies abroad and transfer to a British medical school later?

No. It is virtually impossible to transfer between universities, due to the competitive nature of the course. Students should not apply to study medicine abroad with the hope of transferring to a UK or US or Australian school, as the chances of this becoming a reality is very, very slim.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult to return to the UK or US or Australia for FY1 and FY2 training years. Students studying abroad should expect to stay abroad until they are fully qualified (i.e. having completed their FY1 and FY2 training contract). After this, providing that you are a suitable candidate, there should be few difficulties finding a job in the UK, both in the NHS or private sector, or in the US or Australia.

  1. Do I need to use an agent to get a place at a medical school abroad?

We believe that our definitive guide to studying medicine in Europe provides students with an all-you-need-to-know about studying medicine abroad, including helpful links on where and how to apply. We offer this to help students avoid the additional fees often incurred by using external agents. Many students are happy and able to organise their own places at medical schools across the world, and don’t need the help of an agent. However, some students, particularly those outside of the EU or from dramatically different cultures, often use agents whilst they familiarise themselves with the English language, the country they’ve chosen  to study and live in and the administration systems in place in that country.

We consider the use of an agent more of a personal preference. There are several agents operating the the UK who help international students find places at various overseas universities in order to study medicine abroad. Whilst using an agent isn’t necessary in order to organise your placement, it can be helpful, especially since European medical schools can be notoriously bad at administration and keeping in touch.

  1.  What is the International Medical Admissions Test (IMAT)

The IMAT is like an entrance examination, and is designed to test prospective students who study medicine abroad. The test is divided into two sections. The first section is multiple-choice; students will answer 30 questions that will assess their critical thinking and problem solving skills. The second section is a scientific knowledge assessment. Students will answer a further 30 multiple-choice questions which will test their knowledge of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.

Candidates are given a total of 90 minutes to complete the test. A 20 point minimum is needed to pass the test. Every correct answer awards 1.5 points, a blank answer is 0 points, and a wrong answer subtracts 0.4 from the final score.

You can find IMAT past papers here.