What Students Say About Studying Medicine at The Medical University of Silesia?

Updated on 06/07/2024 in

When you’re preparing to study medicine abroad, the first thing to do would be to research the best medical universities in Europe. During your research, you’ve likely come across the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland. 

While Poland may not be the first country you think of when you decide to study medicine in Europe, it’s a prime destination for hundreds of international medical students. And the Medical University of Silesia, in particular, has gained a reputation for being among the best.

But what exactly makes the university, in particular, stand out? What makes that one university such an appealing option for so many? 

To answer that, we sat down with three international students currently studying medicine at the university - Ayob from Norway and Mohammed and Eboka from the UK - to gather their thoughts about why they took the leap!

Is it safe to study in Katowice?

When considering studying in Poland, the idea that the country isn’t safe tends to deter many students. And with typical Western mass media news highlighting mostly crimes and reports like the presence of "anti-LGBT zones", it's not hard to see where they got that impression.

So, how safe do international students truly feel in Poland? Well, no one can answer that better than them, so we asked Mohammed about his thoughts on how he found safety in the city.

“Katowice may seem like a small city, but it’s full of international students thanks to its universities. It’s also a very safe city,” he said. “You may have heard on the news about Polish politics and how the country is anti-LGBT, islamophobic, etc. Personally, I’ve had no issues in Katowice, so I think that’s very important to point out to students who are considering studying in Poland.

Crime statistics agree with Mohammed - crime rates per capita in Katowice are significantly lower than they are in many European capitals, such as London or Paris. 

Is Poland a good place to study medicine?

Poland is considered one of the best countries to study medicine. Its medical universities provide a world-class education at a lower tuition cost than most Western countries.

But the quality of education and low costs are only some of the reasons why students choose Poland. For Mohammed, the situation was far more severe—there was a risk he wouldn’t be able to study medicine at all.

“I didn’t meet the minimum requirements [in the UK]; I was told my applications weren’t even going to be considered - so I decided to study abroad,” he told us.

Many students choose to retake the exams or take a gap year to apply again next year. However, Eboka doesn’t think that’s the right choice.

“The US, the UK, wherever you’re from, they need doctors. The UK is drastically behind Europe in terms of doctor-to-patient ratio,” he said. “There’s never been a better time to become a doctor, and if you’re holding onto that hope of ‘Oh, I want to stay in the UK’, I think you’re just wasting your prime years. As time goes by, you’ll just get less passionate about it.” 

Living in a different country can be hard for anyone, be they students or not. But Ayob doesn’t believe the challenge is insurmountable.

“Everyone has concerns about leaving family behind, job, loved ones… But as humans, we’re the ultimate adaptation machines. We adapt very quickly. And once you get settled, things get better.”

International students at the Medical University of Silesia

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How much does it cost to study medicine in Poland?

The price of studying at the university is generally lower than it is in most countries in Western Europe - in fact, it’s among the most affordable universities in the region. 

However, what truly draws international students to Poland are the very affordable living costs. Living comfortably in Katowice costs about €600 a month, although that’s only a vague estimate which could change depending on the student’s needs.

Rent is the significant deciding factor. Dorm rooms are available at the university, and a single room costs about €200. A small apartment in the region would cost around €400-450, but it can also be shared with other students for a portion of the rent. 

Food costs about €150-200 a month, depending on whether the student has particular dietary needs, chooses to cook or eat out, etc. Overall expenses (including food, utilities, entertainment and transport) average around €400 a month. 

Medical University of Silesia in Katowice - tuition fees

Is it hard to study in Poland without knowing the language?

Polish can be notoriously difficult to learn - it’s routinely listed online as one of the most complicated European languages. While some may enjoy learning its more tongue-twisty phrases, most students have expressed concern about them. Sure, the medical course at university is taught entirely in English, but what about day-to-day life? 

We asked Mohammed whether he struggled with the language when he first started studying at the University of Silesia.

“At first, I was really scared about the language barrier because I was told Polish is one of the top 10 hardest languages to learn in Europe. But I was able to adapt very quickly and very easily. It’s easy to use a translator app, for example, Google Translate, to do stuff like grocery shopping or ordering at restaurants.”

Mohammed also told us a little bit about the languages used within the university.

“The teachers speak great English! There’s no issue with understanding what they say or anything like that. In addition, Polish is taught in the course, so you can learn that over your first and second years, and it makes living in Poland so much easier, and in the later years, when we start seeing patients, that’ll be so much easier too.”

“Language isn’t a problem for the most part. Young people speak English, so you can get around very well,” Ayob added.

Silesian University Medical students practice

Is the Medical University of Silesia accredited?

Yes, the Medical University of Silesia is internationally recognised and accredited. It’s featured in the World Directory of Medical Schools, which means degrees obtained there will be recognised by global organisations such as the GMC and AMA.

Thanks to this recognition, any graduates from the Medical University of Silesia can practise medicine anywhere in the world. That means that, for example, a student from the UK can study in Katowice and then return home to the UK, or can remain in Katowice, or even go to a completely unrelated country (for example, Germany) and practise there.

“My country, Norway, is very strict when it comes to students going abroad to study,” Ayob told us. “They want to know what university you’re going to, and they want it to be recognised. Otherwise, practising medicine is not a possibility. I had to present the name of the university to the government and to the people responsible for sending me abroad. And it got approved! So that tells it all! It’s a university where you can obtain a degree that’s internationally recognised.

How is the clinical practise at the Medical University of Silesia?

The University of Silesia’s clinical education is considered the best in Poland. This is due to the hospitals directly on campus, which are fully available to students.

That's solid praise right there—but confirmed by our students currently living in Katowice. Eboka, in particular, had a lot to say about the clinical environment in which the further years of medical education are performed.

Many students are concerned that the first years are only “dry science” without the meatier clinical aspects, but Eboka put those fears to rest. 

“In the university, we have something called physical diagnosis, and we also have something called clinical analysis. And you do those courses during the initial years when you focus on the basic sciences. We’re kind of thrown into the hospital straight away. We met patients. We did exams… Right from the onset, we’re exposed to patients and hospitals. It was amazing!”

Eventually, students wean off the classroom for good.

“I’ve just finished my basic sciences, so next semester I’ll be starting full-time in the hospital. I won’t be in the classroom anymore. I’ll be completely in the hospital, interacting with patients, shadowing doctors, going from department to department…”

But the hospitals aren’t just an afterthought. They’re a significant part of the experience and something that the university has invested a lot of effort and funds into.

“On the Silesia campus, there are two massive hospitals, one of which they’re expanding, and the other one they’re refurbishing, and then there’s also other hospitals affiliated with the university off-campus as well. You have access to the hospitals straight away, and a lot of our professors work in the hospitals. So a lot of our classes are very clinic-oriented, which to me is really interesting because I don’t like lectures where they’re just reading off the slides.”

Can Students from Ukraine Transfer to the Medical University of Silesia?

Yes, students from Ukraine who are currently living in Katowice are permitted to officially transfer to the Medical University of Silesia and continue their medical education.

Silesia is very friendly towards international students - and that includes those who happily came to Katowice as well as those who, unfortunately, had to flee their home country rather than come by choice. 

Soon after the beginning of the armed conflict in Ukraine, the Act of March 12, 2022, allowed thousands of Ukrainian citizens to obtain refugee status in Poland. Soon afterwards, the Medical University of Silesia issued a statement inviting any medical students from Ukraine who are currently living in Katowice to continue their education at Silesia

Ukrainian students who wish to take them up on this need to present a number of documents, including a copy of their book of performance, a certificate of their average exam grades and a certificate on the course of studies, among others. If, for obvious reasons, those documents are unavailable, the student needs to take an exam instead to prove their level of education.

Of course, Medical University of Silesia transfers are also possible for international students from other countries. There are two intakes - in September and February when transfer students can start. However, that process works a little differently, so make sure to contact us if you have any questions about it. 

Why Students Choose to Study at the Medical University of Silesia

To recap, we asked our students why they chose to study at the Medical University of Silesia rather than somewhere else. Here are the points they all agreed on:

  • Price - Both the tuition fees for medical school and the costs of living in Katowice are very low compared to the UK, US, or Western Europe. 
  • Accreditation - Degrees earned from the Medical University of Silesia are internationally recognised and can be used to practise medicine globally.
  • Clinical focus - Students start learning practically in the hospital, even during their early years, before moving to clinical studies full-time.
  • Friendly community - The international student community in Katowice is very tightly woven, and it’s easy to make friends for life.
  • Graduate entry - The ability to skip the pre-clinical years and go directly to clinical for a 4-year degree was a big boon for many students.

In addition to that, all of our students loved the approach to teaching, with smaller groups and a diverse range of professors.

“The Medical University of Silesia is a fantastic university,” Ayob told us. “Very international. What I like about it most is that we’re not a very big class. We have access to professional advice and a well-equipped lab.”

Interested in studying at the Medical University of Silesia?

We’ve been able to help Ayob, Eboka and Mohammed study at the university of their dreams - and we can do the same for you. Our expert student advisors will handle all communications with the university and all paperwork, help you cram for your entrance exam, and ultimately ensure you’ll become a student of Silesia as soon as possible.

Ready to get started on the journey of a lifetime? Or do you have more questions? Fear not - we’re always ready to help. Request a FREE consultation today, and let us know when it’d be convenient for one of our advisors to call you to discuss your future in Silesia. 

Article written by Dr Sam El Mais
Dr Sam El Mais, MD, MSc, BSc, graduated from a renowned medical school in Romania in 2019. He uses his professional knowledge and personal experience to guide students on crucial aspects such as university selection, admissions processes, and cultural adjustments.
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2 comments on “What Students Say About Studying Medicine at The Medical University of Silesia?”

  1. I am interested in studying medicine at the University of Silesia. Can someone contact me to discuss the application process, please?

    Kind regards,

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