I have received many emails and calls in the last 2 months (I am writing this article at the end of April 2022). When the war in Ukraine broke up, many foreign students from all over the world fled also through Slovakia to return safely back to their homes. These students are now seeking new universities to transfer their medical studies.

Currently, there are online classes in Ukrainian schools still running (summer semester of the academic year 2021/2022), which makes the situation for transfers easier (as students are expected to finish also the full academic year of 2021/2022). It is definitely difficult to predict the next development of the situation in the Ukrainian-Russian war, but there are signs that conflict may freeze and it could be dangerous to return back to Ukrainian universities. I would like to explain various aspects of the transfer of medical studies from Ukraine in this article.

The reason why Ukrainian medical schools were popular

Ukraine was popular among medical students, due to several factors: there were relatively low tuition fees (3000-5000€) per year, a relatively easy visas process, and a big chance of being accepted. The schools were recognized by various international organizations, including the World Directory of Medical Schools, Naczelna Izba Lekarska, The Association of Medical Schools in Europe, European University Association, Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, British Medical Association German Medical Association or Medical council MCI in India. that was also the reason why there were approximately 18.000 Indian medical students studying in Ukraine, but also thousands of British, Polish, African or German medical students. The most popular medical universities in Ukraine were: Bukovinian State Medical university, Bogomolets National Medical University, Odessa medical university, Zaporozhye State medical university, Kharkiv National medical university, Ternopil State Medical University, Dnepropetrovsk (Dnipro) medical university, Sumy State University, Black Sea National University and others. Programs of General and Dental medicine take 6 years to complete.

What are the factors for the transfer of medical studies?

As explained in the previous column, students were coming to Ukraine because of affordable fees, easier visas policy, and plenty of places offered for international students. If they look for a new place to study, the new study destination must offer the same benefits: affordable tuition fees and living costs, easy immigration policy, and recognition of completed subjects from the previous studies. From my experience, finding an ideal university in the European Union for transfer is really difficult. Tuition fees are 2-3x higher (10.000-16.000€ in most universities), there is a different structure of the medical or dentistry course and embassies of the countries are usually busy not only with study visas but also with work or family reunion visas. This can result in being accepted to a lower year than expected (which will lead to the extended length of the studies), problems with obtaining visas (in case you are not from the EU or EEA country) and paying a higher price for year of study.

Where to transfer in Europe with the lowest tuition fees and friendly transfer policy?

The lowest tuition fees are definitely in Italy, where you can study for 1500€ per year (2 semesters). There is a really limited number of places offered for international students – in most cases between 50-120 places, so admission is difficult. There are various limitations, therefore, as transfer spots for new students are offered only if there are some free places. There are various sources on the internet (e.g. medschool.it) which is mentioning problems with admission and recognition of completed subjects.

There is an interesting alternative in Europe – to be precise in the Faculty of medicine in Foca, University of East Sarajevo, Bosnia. The faculty is offering transfers to the 3rd year in the academic year 2022/23 for a program in General medicine. It opens a program in Dental medicine in 2022/2023. The tuition fees are only 3000€ per year (2 semesters) and it is open to all international students. Students can get estimation of their transfer year by sending syllabuses of completed subjects and transcripts of records (in English or with translation to the English language). The board of the faculty will consider it and decide about the transfer year. Students will get also accommodation in a closely located dormitory (price is 250€ per month but includes 3 meals a day) which is located approximately 15-20 minutes by walk.

There is no visa for EU or EEA students coming to study in Bosnia (there are already students from Italy studying in Foca), while other students will need to go through visa procedures via the Bosnian embassy abroad. It might take over 30 days to obtain visas, so I suggest to start as soon as possible. Classes for 2nd and higher study years is starting in mid of October.