Studying Medicine Abroad

24 July 2020
24 July 2020 Dr. P. Baptiste

By Aisha Bello

Are there other options for studying medicine when you get all your rejections? Are gap years and studying other degrees before reapplying to study medicine in the UK the only options? The answer is no. There are fortunately options for studying medicine abroad in other countries such as Bulgaria, Romania or even Australia. There is also the choice to study medicine in European Universities or studying in UK universities which have campuses in other countries. In this blog I will not only give details on my own current experience but also other opportunities for studying medicine abroad.

What is the difference in the application process between UCAS and for studying abroad?

With UCAS, the application fee is 24 pounds whereas with applying to study medicine abroad the deposit can be around £2000 to process your application when applying to international universities.

When applying abroad you can either apply directly to the university website and submit an application, (for example with St George’s University Graduate Entry in Nicosia, Cyprus or Queen Mary’s University of London, Malta) or, there are organisations that support you with applying. For example ‘Study Medicine in Europe’ pairs you with someone to guide you through the application process and provides you with information about each university in terms of fees, how many years the degree is and so on. Before I discovered the Queen Mary’s University of London course in Malta I did apply using Study Medicine in Europe and my advisor was very helpful throughout the application process so I would highly recommend it.

Funding?

For a home student, it costs £9250 pounds a year for tuition fees in all UK universities. So if you’re studying for five- six years you’re looking at £46250-£54500 per year. Student Finance England (SFE) provides financial support for both tuition and maintenance fees in the UK to help students fund their medical degree.

In some European universities, (for example Kiev Medical School in Ukraine), tuition fees are roughly £2800 per year. So for a five year degree you would spend roughly thirty per cent as much as you would in a UK medical school. However there are fewer student loan funding opportunities. Also, not all medical schools abroad are around this price range. For instance, medical schools in the United States (US) are roughly $60,000 for a four year degree and that doesn’t include flights or maintenance allowance. Support in the form of scholarships is available in the US, so this may help with funding but it will still be expensive.

Different medical schools in Europe

Here is a list of a few medical schools in Europe:

Kiev Medical School
Sumy State University
Zaphorizhzhia State Medical University
Univeristy of Belgrade
Plovdiv Medical University
Varna Medical Univeristy
Sofia Medical University

One good thing about medical schools in Europe is that if you are from the UK it is not too far from home compared to the US and Australia and they have both graduate and undergraduate degree programs.

Is there a language barrier when studying a European medical degree?

Be prepared that if the native language is not English, the medical degree will not be taught in English but in the native language. The exception is if it’s a UK institute. Therefore, it would be advisable to learn the language as this would make your clinical years easier when coming into contact with patients that speak the native language!

However, there are a few European medical schools that do teach in English. Here are those medical schools:

  • University of Nicosia Medical School, Cyprus
  • Plovdiv Medical University, Bulgaria
  • Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
  • Humanitas University, Italy
  • Palacky University, Czech Republic
  • Masaryk University, Czech Republic
  • Riga Stradins University, Latvia
  • Debrecen University, Hungary
  • Lithuania University of Health Sciences, Lithuania
  • Universita Degli Studi Di Milano, Italy

UK medical schools abroad:

Queen Mary University of London, (QMUL) Malta

In September 2017, QMUL opened up a medical school in Malta, specifically in Gozo (a small island). This is an undergraduate degree but graduate students can also study the five year degree. The course is taught in English and is the exact same as the course in London. Some of the lecturers are different however some are the same and fly between Malta and London to teach both cohorts. The campus was fully built this year and honestly from my first year so far, the course is taught really well. One advantage of studying the course in Malta is that we get more clinical exposure in Maltese clinics and hospitals earlier on in the course compared to the London cohort. There is also an opportunity for students to do Student Selected Components (SSCs) for a few weeks on the London campus and for students that want to intercalate (study an extra degree during medicine) to study a BSc or MSc on the London campus too.

In terms of applying you can apply directly through the website and you would be required to sit the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) exam. The interview is a panel interview where they will give you an article to read a few weeks prior to the interview. Last year, there were offers through clearing so this can be a good back up option if results day doesn’t go to plan. The biggest disadvantage is that the tuition fees are a lot compared to UK medical school fees and it costs roughly 20,000 euros a year. Although there are no student loans for home students, there are student loans for international students and the course is free for Maltese students.

St George’s University of London in Nicosia, Cyprus

This course is a graduate course, (four years) and allows students to study a graduate medicine course which is the same as the St. George’s course on the London campus. In terms of applying it is again directly on the website and you would be required to sit the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) exam. The course is taught in English too. However, the annual tuition fees are 30,000 euros a year and unfortunately home students are not eligible for student loans.

Is it worth studying medicine abroad?

There are a number of factors to consider such as: would you be able to cope in that particular country in terms of their standard of living and any potential language barriers? Would you be able to afford the tuition fees to study abroad? Would you be open minded to be able to go through this experience?

So far, I have realised that this was one of the hardest but best decisions I have made. I wouldn’t totally rule out the opportunity but ensure you do as much research as you possibly can before you decide to study abroad.

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