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Dreaming of living abroad, experiencing a new culture and getting your medical degree at the same time? Studying in Europe could be the perfect route for you.
Medicine courses in the UK are increasingly competitive in terms of applicants, and many also charge high tuition fees. So, it’s easy to see why many aspiring medical students are tempted to study abroad, especially in countries with low tuition fees and affordable living costs.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about studying medicine in Europe. This includes entry requirements, tuition fees and where European medical degrees are recognised. Plus, the top-ranked European universities to set your sights on.
We’ll even throw in a handy tip to help you manage your money between the UK and Europe - the Wise multi-currency account.
So, let’s get started.
There are many reasons why you may consider studying medicine in Europe. Here are just a few of the most attractive benefits¹:
- Tuition fees tend to be broadly the same as in the UK, and can be much cheaper in some countries.
- The cost of living can also be significantly lower in Europe (depending on the country).
- Many courses are taught in English.
- You’ll be able to apply for a licence to practise with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK once you graduate.
- You’ll get the chance to learn about and gain experience of European healthcare systems - ideal if you’re thinking of working abroad once you graduate.
- Internationally recognised qualifications.
- The opportunity to study at world-renowned European universities.
And of course, studying abroad offers exciting opportunities to meet new people, experience new cultures and perhaps learn a new language too. Many UK students are drawn to Europe because of the lifestyle, as well as the climate.
However, it’s also important to remember that studying abroad isn’t for everyone. You’ll be in a foreign country, away from home, for around six years. There may be a whole new language to learn, and the educational system may be different than you’re used to.
The entry requirements to study medicine in Europe can be a little different to the UK, although it varies between medical universities.
For example, you won’t need to sit the UCAT test, as this is only for entry onto medical courses in the UK, New Zealand and Australia².
Here’s a list of the most common qualifications and other requirements you’re likely to need as an international applicant in Europe¹:
- GCSE, BTEC or equivalent high school diploma.
- A-Levels with satisfactory grades (ABB or above) in subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics.
- BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)³ - for entry into some European universities including the Medical University of Warsaw, University of Pécs and University of Zagreb.
- Pass the admissions test (if applicable) for your chosen university
- Pass the medicine interview or MMI (if applicable).
You’ll also need to demonstrate English language proficiency. In terms of documentation, you’ll need to have a valid passport. In some cases, a personal statement or recommendation letter may also be required⁴.
If you’re missing something on this list though, don’t worry. Remember that each university will have its own requirements, so you may still have options. It’s worth looking up the entry requirements for your chosen university, or getting in touch with the admissions department to discuss your circumstances in more detail.
A large number of European medical universities teach courses in English. In fact, there are over 100 to choose from, including⁴:
- Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic¹
- Sofia Medical University, Bulgaria
- Medical University of Silesia, Poland
- University of Nis, Serbia
- Semmelweis University of Medicine, Hungary
- Pavol Jozef Safarik University, Slovakia
- Carol Davila University, Romania
- Riga Stradins University, Latvia¹
- University of Nicosia Medical School, Cyprus¹
- European University in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The right European study destination for you all depends on what you’re looking for. For example, some students prioritise things like the lifestyle, culture or affordability of living costs, while others look for the quality of teaching or the ranking of the university.
You may be keen to experience the culture of Prague, the warm Mediterranean climate of Spain or explore the great cities of Germany. Alternatively, you may be attracted by the low cost of living in countries like Serbia, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria or Hungary⁵. There are also tuition fees to consider, which we’ll look at in just a moment.
But a key factor for any aspiring medical professional will always be the prestige of the university and the quality of both its teaching and facilities. We’ll look at which are the top ranked universities in Europe next.
Here’s a quick look at the highest ranking European universities for medicine, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021⁶:
- Karolinska Institutet - Stockholm, Sweden
- Ruprecht-Karls-Universität - Heidelberg, Germany
- University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Erasmus University Rotterdam - Rotterdam, Netherlands
- University of Copenhagen - Copenhagen, Denmark
- Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München - Munich, Germany
- Sorbonne University - Paris, France
- KU Leuven - Leuven, Belgium
- Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin - Berlin, Germany
- University of Zurich - Zurich, Switzerland
- Utrecht University - Utrecht, Netherlands
- Universitat de Barcelona - Barcelona, Spain.
You’ll need to check the accreditation of your chosen university, but a large number offer qualifications which are recognised worldwide⁴.
To find out more about where a university’s medical degree will be recognised, you’ll need to check its website or contact its admissions department. You can also look for accreditation with bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a listing on the World Directory of Medical Schools. The latter is a requirement for licensing in the US, Canada and Australia⁴.
You should also check the amount of study hours on your chosen course. The UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) and the Irish Medical Council (IMC) both require international graduates to have at least 5,500 hours of contact study over a period of 3-4 years⁴.
Annual tuition fees in Europe vary considerably between universities, but you can expect to pay anywhere between €3,000 and €30,000 a year⁴.
While the most prestigious institutions are likely to charge higher fees, this doesn’t necessarily mean that cheaper options offer a low standard of education. It’s worth bearing in mind that tuition fee prices can often reflect the economic state of the country. So if costs of living are generally quite low (such as in Georgia or Serbia, for example), then it follows that tuition fees may also be lower than in other parts of Europe.
Here’s a quick look at guideline tuition fee costs to study medicine in Europe, looking at a number of the most popular countries:
|Country||Annual tuition fees|
|Georgia||€3,000 to €4,500⁷|
|Poland||€11,000 to €14,000⁹|
|Romania||€5,000 to €9,500¹⁰|
|Italy||€500 to €17,055¹²|
|Czech Republic||€6,000 to €13,000¹⁴|
|Serbia||€4,500 to €6,000¹⁵|
|Croatia||€7,500 to €10,000¹⁶|
As you can see from the table above, countries like Serbia, Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria tend to be the cheapest places in Europe to study medicine. Better still, these countries also have relatively low living costs. This makes them ideal for medical students looking for a more affordable alternative than the UK.
Fees also tend to be low in Armenia (€2,000 to €3,000)¹⁷, Moldova (around €4,000)¹⁸ and Belarus (around €3,000)¹⁹.
But perhaps surprisingly, you can also find low tuition fees at medical universities in Italy. For example, annual tuition fees at the University of Milano-Cicocca School of Medicine and Surgery are just €508, while fees at the University of Messina are around €635 a year¹².
The best place to look for courses in medicine with low or no fees are public universities and medical schools. Fees tend to be highest in private medical schools.
For example, public medical schools in Germany and Norway are free for all international students. Finland, Denmark and Sweden also have free medical schools, but only EU/EEA students are eligible²⁰.
You may also be able to find free or low cost medical degrees in other countries, such as France.
If you’re looking to study in Europe, you’ll need to find a convenient and low cost way to manage your money. After all, you may have to pay upfront admission and tuition fees while still in the UK. If you send money overseas using your bank, you could find it expensive.
Wise offers the ideal solution for international students. Open a Wise multi-currency account online and you can send money worldwide for low fees and the mid-market exchange rate. It’s quick, easy and secure - and you can track your payments using the handy Wise app.
Better still, while you’re in Europe, you can receive money in GBP and EUR for free.
There’s even a handy Wise debit card for low cost contactless spending in 200+ countries. This is ideal for covering your living costs during your course, and for spending back home in the UK without needing to convert cash or use multiple cards.
With the option to hold, convert and spend in 50+ currencies at once, Wise is the ultimate solution for international students across Europe.
Sources used for this article:
- The Medic Portal - study medicine abroad in Europe
- The Medic Portal - UCAT Universities
- The Medic Portal - BMAT Universities
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Europe
- Numbeo - Europe cost of living
- Top Universities - QS World University Rankings
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Georgia
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Bulgaria
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Poland
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Romania
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Hungary
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Italy
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Germany in English
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Czech Republic
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Serbia
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Croatia
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Armenia
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Moldova
- Medlink Students - study medicine in Belarus
- Masters Portal - where to study medicine in English in 2022
Sources checked on 17-05-2022.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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