Two years ago, the Medical School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) opened for the first time its doors to international students by launching its first 6-year Undergraduate Program in English. Two years later, a first evaluation of the program's outcomes shows very promising signs for the future.
The program –one of the few English-taught undergraduate programs in Greece– looks very successful, having already attracted 120 students from 27 countries from all five continents. 60 students is the maximum number of new students allowed to enroll each year, and many have already expressed interest for the next academic year.
Tuition fees are €12,000 per year; since March 2021, when the program’s official website was launched, there have been 120,000 unique visitors, with more than 3,500 people expressing interest, and one third of those submitting a complete application. So far, the income from the program’s operation amount to 1.5 million euros.
According to the President of the Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Kyriakos Anastasiades, these revenues have helped the university hire 22 new faculty and administrative staff members for the program, and also renovate teaching rooms, laboratories and two of the main auditoriums. The university has also been supplied with equipment including 300 tablets that will help implement the pioneer initiative of conducting digital exams. The performance of the students of the English-speaking program is similar to that of the Greek-speaking program. The success rate in the course examinations of the guest students is 95%.
The successful operation of the program, as the President of the Faculty of Medicine of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki states, "is proof of the great potential of Greek education in the international market". As he pointed out, this program is not only an additional source of national income, but also helps promote the country's status, boost international relations and make Greece more competitive not only in the field of medical services, but also in those of scientific and technological research & development, and also tourism.
Historically, medicine has been largely rooted in ancient Greek tradition (especially that of Hippocrates and Galen) and, even to this day, an impressive number of medical terms come from Greek. But, most importantly, Greece remains at the forefront in the medical sector today, consistently being listed among the countries with the best physicians in the world, despite its small population. Aristotle University’s program capitalizes on this tradition, while at the same time also helping maximize the reputation of Greek doctors and best practices in medicine, but also of the Greek educational system, on an international level.
The Medical School of Thessaloniki has also paved the way for other faculties and departments of Greek universities which are now also launching international undergraduate programs. Already this year, the Medical School of the University of Athens has launched its own English-taught undergraduate program, while other medical schools and, in general, other universities in Greece, are preparing to follow its example.
It should also be pointed out that the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs actively supports all efforts by Greek universities and educational institutions in their outward- oriented initiatives, promoting them to a wide international audience. Its collaboration with the English-speaking program of the Aristotle Medical School has been especially close and fruitful. The Secretary General, Prof. John Chrysoulakis, has had extensive meetings with the rector of the University, Prof. Nikos Papaioannou, and the president of the Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Anastasiadis, to discuss the organization and promotion strategy for the program, with outstanding results.
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