Faculty of dentistry at Semmelweis University, Budapest

Eastern Europe draws medical students

Lower tuition costs, greater accessibility and English-language classes are leading growing numbers of foreign students to enrol in eastern European medical schools. And with EU-recognised diplomas and fluid national borders, they feel confident they can find work in Europe.

Published on 20 August 2013 at 11:28
Faculty of dentistry at Semmelweis University, Budapest

When a first-year medical student from the United States left his skateboard by the entrance of a 19th-Century lecture hall here, Professor Andrea Dorottya Szekely swiftly picked it up and reprimanded its young owner.

“We do things differently here,” Dr Szekely said of Semmelweis University, a 244-year-old institution in Budapest that focuses on the medical and health sciences. Students are expected to stand at attention in classrooms until a bell rings and their professors enter, for example.

Despite having to bridge such cultural gaps at times, an increasing number of foreign students are heading to eastern Europe for medical, dental or pharmaceutical studies. Though it still hosts far fewer international students than western Europe does, the region appears to be attracting growing interest.

The number of foreign university students in Hungary rose 21 per cent from 2005 to 2011 – to 16,465 from 13,601 – according to the Unesco Institute for Statistics, which defines a foreign university student as one who had not previously earned a secondary degree in the country.

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