Medicine Outside the UK: Applying to Eastern Europe

Last updated: 15/11/2023

The final article in the Medicine Outside the UK series will focus on the option of pursuing medical education in Eastern Europe (e.g. countries like the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Poland). This is becoming increasingly popular as there is less competition for entry compared to the UK and the cost of medical education is lower.

The prospect of being immersed in a completely different culture has an adventurous allure to it too, so if you are an adaptable person who enjoys novel surroundings, this may be a suitable option for you.

Here, we provide general information on applying to medical schools in Eastern Europe. For further details (e.g. specific admission requirements and fees), get in touch directly with the university you are interested in or receive advice from a consultancy company (more on this at the end of this article).

If you haven't already, make sure to explore different routes into medical schools in the UK before applying abroad.
Advantages of studying medicine in Eastern Europe include experiencing a different culture, lower tuition fees and living costs, and developing independence.

How long is a medical degree in Eastern Europe?

Eastern European universities usually have six-year courses, so it's a bit longer than most UK medical degrees.

The first two years are pre-clinical, the next three years are the clinical years and then the final year is an internship.

The internship is basically like FY1 in the UK and is recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Years of Medical School in Eastern Europe: Years 1 and 2 are pre-clinical, years 3-5 are clinical and year 6 is internship
Years of Medical School in Eastern Europe

What A-levels do you need for medicine in Europe?

The grade requirements are much lower than in the UK

Some universities have a minimum requirement, which is usually C-grades. Some universities don't have any grade requirements, but they do want you to do biology and chemistry A-levels. 

Each university has a separate entrance exam. The final offer is based more on the entrance exam than your A-levels. This gives you a second chance if you didn't do so well in your A-levels.

Is there a standardised entrance exam?‍

Every university has its own entrance exam, but you can prepare with the syllabus and practice papers that they provide.

What is the timeline of European medical universities?

The majority of the universities have very similar timelines, starting in September and finishing in July.

There's one, Pleven Medical University that has a bit of a different schedule, starting in February and finishing in December.

Is it better to study medicine in the UK or abroad in Europe?

Most students prefer to study medicine in the UK, as it is more convenient. 

In terms of your degree and the job prospects that come with it, there isn’t much difference between studying medicine in Europe and the UK. You're taught the same things and you will be studying medicine abroad in English. 

If you didn't get an offer in the UK, studying medicine in Europe is a solid option.

‍What are the fees like in European medical schools?

The fees are lower than in the UK. Most medical schools charge around €8,000 (~£6,000) per year. 

The cost is usually split between two semesters, paying €4,000 at the beginning of the first semester starting in September, and the other €4,000 at the start of the second semester, usually in February.

What about the living costs of studying in another country?

Generally, living costs are fairly inexpensive compared to the UK. You can get by with a budget of around £500 to £1,500 per month including rent.

What countries are there to choose from?

Popular countries include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

How do you get into Foundation Year (FY) 1 or 2 from Europe?‍

You can apply through the GMC and look for jobs the same way as a UK graduate would. 

You would’ve already done your sixth year, which is an internship and is recognised by the GMC as FY1. It's not exactly the same, but they do recognise it and so you can apply for FY2 jobs instead

Are all qualifications recognised in the UK?‍

Yes, the medical degrees are definitely recognised in the UK. You can find information about European students and foreign students on the GMC website and all the universities they recognise.

In particular, some medical schools are highly rated according to the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject (medicine). For example:

  • Charles University (Czech Republic): ranked 201-250
  • Semmelweis University (Hungary): ranked 201-250
  • Jagiellonian University (Poland): ranked 251-300
  • University of Debrecen (Hungary): ranked 301-350

These universities are on par with or ranked higher than many medical schools in the UK.

‍When is the latest I can apply to study medicine abroad?

You can apply for them as late as September each year. There's an entrance exam for a few of the universities in early September, and the courses usually start later in the month after all the entrance exams are done.

Do you have to learn the local language? Is the medical course taught in English?

Your course is completely taught in English. However, you do tend to learn the local language on the side too, mainly to speak with locals during your clinical years. But it's very basic stuff and nothing that should be worried about. You'll be there for a pretty long time, so you'll pick it up along the way.

‍What about funding?

That's one of the downsides of studying in Eastern Europe, as your study has to be self-funded. If your family cannot help you, you will have to work or use your savings to fund yourself.

How competitive is it to get in?

There are students who apply with C-grades and still get in, so it really depends on how well you perform in the entrance exam, rather than how well you did in your A-levels.

Are there any other admission requirements?

In addition to the entrance exam, you will need to be physically and mentally healthy (a medical exam may be required), and provide a personal statement and/or letters of recommendation. You should also present some evidence of work experience and extracurricular activities that show your commitment to medicine.

Is it safe to study in Eastern Europe?

Generally speaking, Eastern European countries are very safe, but you must take reasonable precautions.

As always when abroad, you have to be sensitive to the cultural norms of the country you choose. This includes your attire - some countries will not appreciate revealing clothes, for example. 

Most countries and cities have areas which are safer than others. You can find out which areas are to be avoided by speaking to local people before committing to a place to live.

Do I need a visa?

It is likely that you will need to apply for a student visa and may also be required to pay international fees, depending on the country/university. Contact the university’s admissions department directly for official advice and consult the UK government website.

Where can I get further help?

There are several online consultancy companies which allow you to research your options, organise admissions exams and submit your applications to universities abroad.

We’ve partnered with Medlink Students, a reputable consultancy that provides support for everything you need from the pre-application process to post-acceptance care. Look forward to £200/AU$400 cashback from us, if you apply to a university through Medlink Students via Medify's exclusive deal.

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