Semmelweis University40 Years of International Training at Semmelweis University

40 Years of International Training at Semmelweis University

Thousands of international students from almost 100 countries around the world have chosen Semmelweis University in Budapest as the location of their studies, to become doctors, pharmacists or dentists. In 2022, the Hungarian university celebrates the 40th anniversary of teaching international students, who make up over one-third of the total students’ community at the institute.


“During these four decades we have learned a lot from you, international students, about culture, perseverance, devotion and ambition. We acknowledge the effort and risk you have taken when leaving your home country and join a hitherto unknown country and community. This activity has born a new body in Semmelweis University, a body we are happy to involve in our everyday life,” Dr. Béla Merkely, the Rector of Semmelweis University emphasized at Semmelweis Salon last December, when he welcomed the representatives of the English and German language programs of the university.

Under his rectorship, major importance is attached to the fact that students of the German and English language programs, as well as Hungarian students, are brought together in order to establish fruitful relationships and create an “international Semmelweis spirit”. According to the Rector’s expectations, this will later provide an ideal breeding ground for joint research projects that boost the academic life of health science.


Education in two foreign languages

German and English language programs have been available at the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy for over three decades. German language programs have been run at Semmelweis University since 1983 while the English language program was founded in 1989. The first two academic years are taught solely in English or German, however, participation in clinical practice requires that students acquire a certain level of Hungarian language skills to be able to communicate with patients.

The Faculty of Health Sciences offers nearly 20 different programs, including new fields like public health management or optometry, for applicants from all around the world. Semmelweis University has three international campus program, including a medical program in Germany, a physiotherapy master’s program in Switzerland and a Health Manager master’s program in Slovakia.

“The countries from which the students came varied according to the global political situation. There was a time when there were a lot of people from Greece and Cyprus, but then Greece made a decision that they would only accept a diploma if medicine was taught in mother tongue. But there have always been a lot of students from Israel, there were a lot from Sweden at one time, and then Norwegians came. Now we have people from 97 countries studying English, which is a really high number. Target countries are South Korea, Japan, Israel, Norway, USA, Canada. There are also quite a lot of people from Iran,” Dr. Alán Alpár, Vice-Rector for International Studies emphasized.


Training center in Hamburg, Germany

This year marks 10 years since the Asklepios Hospital Association in Hamburg came to Semmelweis University with the idea to have the students spend the first 2 years at Semmelweis in Budapest, and then to continue their training at Hamburg hospitals and at the end, to receive a Semmelweis diploma. The cooperation with that external training center has just been renewed. Thanks to this cooperation 70 students graduate every year.

Semmelweis University has 12,000 students in six faculties, more than a third of them are foreigners. But if you only look at the Faculty of Medicine (ÁOK), during the first year, 54 percent of the students are foreigners and it will be even more, because the university is admitting around 430 people for Hungarian, 320-330 for German, and the same number for English training. Plus, this year there is a very special event, the reception and schooling of Ukrainian medical students: that means 200 students only in ÁOK. The Faculty of András Pető will start teaching in English this year.


250 years of experience and constantly renewal

Semmelweis University is the oldest medical university in Hungary with 250 years of experience in the field of biomedical sciences and in training physicians, dentists and pharmacists. Today, students of this long-established educational institute have the opportunity to acquire hands-on and up-to-date knowledge from the most distinguished professors in an inspiring environment equipped with state-of the-art technological solutions. Semmelweis University is built on the trinity of education, research and health care, making it an internationally renowned center of excellence.

“Germany, Israel, Japan, South Korea are important partners: the quality is very good, and they dare to build on it. The admission is strict, the exams are rigorous, and those who don't belong there will drop out over the years. It is very important to renew and consider constantly which country to recruit from,” Dr. Alán Alpár emphasized.

“When we started, we were alone in the European market, but today we have 150 training centers operating in Central and Eastern Europe. Semmelweis University is in the top 1 percent of the world's medical schools, so it's in a really good position, both in terms of teaching and research. We are in a good position in this respect, but we need to be sensible to keep it that way, and we need to maintain the quality of education,” he added.


Outstanding level of theoretical & practical education

Semmelweis University’s international reputation was founded by its outstanding level of theoretical and practical education. The acquisition of practical skills is done in small groups, which creates a solid basis for the establishment of close student-teacher relationships. Semmelweis University is one of Hungary’s largest health care providers. Its four clinical centers accommodate nearly 40 departments where patient care, education and research go hand in hand.

The students benefit from this academic structure in numerous ways. Postgraduate programs, prestigious conferences, research scholarships, international partnerships, and numerous other opportunities aid professional and further development, and provide careers for life to the most talented.

Each year, over 1,500 students earn their diplomas from one of the Semmelweis University’s six faculties, and typically find their first jobs within three months of graduation. In the Academic Year 2021/2022, students of 97 countries from 5 continents study there.

“Small group education is one of the cornerstones. The reason why people come to Semmelweis University is that we do not teach in large groups, but we start with 15-20 people, which then goes down to 9-11 by November, and our training is practical. In many universities, even during the clinical training students hardly meet real patients. Here everyone is constantly learning and taking exams alongside patients. In anatomy, learning takes place with real corpses, and histology is taught using real histological sections. Teaching with a corpse requires a great deal of organization, but it is a very important educational experience. We believe, practice is the only way to acquire real knowledge and that is of great value,” Alán Alpár explained.


Multicultural atmosphere, vibrant student life

At Semmelweis University, student organizations welcome foreign students all year round. International students’ communities like DSVS (Deutschsprachige Studentenvertretung Semmelweis) and ISSA (International Semmelweis Student Association) play an important role in the life of the university.

The cultural, scientific and sport events are open to Hungarian and international students, enabling them to socialize and feel at home as active members of a real multicultural community. The Students’ Union (HÖK) organizes an increasing number of events specifically for international students, showcasing the tradition and culture of each nation. Examples for that are the Oktoberfest and the International Semmelweis Carnival.

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