Europe’s leading medical universities for international students

The demand for medical graduates with cross-cultural competencies has never been greater.

More than 200 countries worldwide have signed up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With one health goal and over 50 health-related targets, it’s an ambitious agenda that aims to save 29 million lives by 2023.

There’s no doubt that remarkable progress has been made on several fronts in recent years: a successful cure found for HIV, under-five mortality rates have halved since 1990, decreasing numbers of death by heart diseases, and the list goes on.

But huge challenges remain.

Ageing and growing populations are testing the limits of public health systems. Chronic diseases, or even antibiotic resistance, are threatening the progress the scientific community has achieved thus far, with the ramifications most severely felt by the world’s most marginalised. At the same time, exponential advances in innovative digital technologies now exist but are too costly to bring solutions fast enough.

Source: Karolinska Institutet

As a result, healthcare demand is booming. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects up to 40 million new health sector jobs will be created by 2030, mostly in middle- and high-income countries. “But despite the anticipated growth, there will be a projected shortage of 18 million health workers needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in low- and lower-middle-income countries, fuelled in part by labour mobility, both within and between nations,” it said.

It’s not just numbers that need filling. The quality of future medical professionals is crucial to meeting the world’s healthcare needs, too. While having the know-how and practical experience to meet the requirements of an MD qualification were once thought sufficient, today’s medical professionals need much more than this.

The future challenges of healthcare require professionals with the skills to adapt to this highly-charged, rapidly-innovating industry. Central to these skills is the ability to handle the social and cultural factors that now play increasing roles in health and illness. Cultural competencies are what differentiates an average healthcare provider to one that respects patients’ values and habits, and to bridge gaps in understanding their concerns. Diversity in medicine has numerous and measurable benefits that play key roles in ensuring the world achieves its healthcare goals.

And it all starts with medical universities. A highly diverse student and faculty body goes a long way in building a truly global medical community. Studies show that graduates from diverse medical schools are more comfortable treating patients from a variety of backgrounds.

According to the International Journal of Medical Education, “Medical schools should be the primary agents of change by taking the necessary steps in their institutional setup, curriculum development, and delivery of medical education.”

In Europe, these are the four medical universities that are leading change:


UMFCD is Romania’s top medical school for many reasons. This is where quality of education, modern equipment, reasonable tuition fees, a diverse student body and multiple post-study EU-based employment opportunities intersect in the country’s oldest medical university.

With over 150 years of excellence behind it, the internationally-recognised, Bucharest-based university receives students from all over the world, all of whom enrol in one of its four faculties: Medicine, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Midwifery and Nursing.

Its world-class Bachelor’s medical programme is six years long, with the first three years dedicated to theoretical studies (preclinical) and the last three years for clinical practice. The course is patient-centred and is offered in both Romanian and English. Candidates must meet these minimum admission requirements: passing an entrance exam and provide proof of a pre-university qualification eligible for academic studies, obtained from the country of origin and recognised by Romania’s Ministry of National Education (MNE).

Source: Carol Davila University of Medical and Pharmacy

UMFCD also offers postgraduate courses at Master’s- (Medical Biophysics and Cellular Biotechnology or Operational Research and Intervention in Medical Social Services) and PhD-level.


For world-class medical and biomedical degrees, head to Stockholm, Sweden, where the Department of Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet is located. Here, aspiring healthcare professionals can choose programmes at all levels of study, from undergraduate- to postgraduate- and PhD-level options

Research is highly emphasised here. The department houses 42 research groups operating in 12 divisions – such as Calculation Medicine and Experimental endocrinology. The school excels in cardiovascular diseases, inflammation with a focus on allergy, rheumatic disorders, skin diseases and infections. Elsevier ranked the institute among the world’s Top 10 for surgery research, with the Institutet producing the most highly-cited research on the topic.

Undergraduate programmes are offered in biomedicine and medicine. Graduate programmes focus on several research areas of medical science such as biostatistics, epidemiology, skin inflammatory diseases research, and experimental neuroscience. At present, the department has 170 registered PhD students.


Internationally-known as the fifth-best Dutch university in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019 and situated in The Netherlands’ happiest city of Rotterdam, this university combines educational excellence with a unique travel experience for aspiring medical students.

Choose from an exciting blend of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in biomedicine and health, offered by five research schools united within the Graduate School: Health Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Medicine, Neuroscience, Cardiovascular Sciences. This is a school that  excels in many fields; not only fundamental, clinical and epidemiological domains but also policy-related ones.

For undergraduates, the BSc in Nanobiology, a unique programme that merges two fields of study for versatile means. At Master’s-level, there are more options, ranging from the MSc Clinical Research to MSc Health Sciences to the MSc Infection & Immunity, to name just a few. At PhD-level, the options include DSc Health Sciences, PhD Biomedical Sciences, PhD Neuroscience and PhD Cardiovascular Science.

Source: Erasmus University Rotterdam


Located in Europe’s premier university city, this medical school offers a dynamic merge of innovative education and research to produce high-quality healthcare. Thanks to an established history of academic excellence, the medical school is in a leading position in France and stands among the very best in Europe.

It’s the only Parisian university to offer medical, pharmaceutical and odontological studies. What the curriculum aims to achieve in every student is a solid scientific background, practical training at the patient’s bedside, and an introduction to clinical research. When it comes to practical training, there are internship opportunities in more than 200 university hospital departments.

The school is affiliated with hospitals such as Cochin Hospital, Hotel Dieu, Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital and European Georges Pompidou Hospital, to name just a few. It is also affiliated with seven research units covering all fields of basic and clinical research in one of the largest medical research centres in Europe.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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