Medical Studies in English (MSE) – University of Zagreb (School of Medicine)

Zagreb, Croatia

Reviewed by Agencija za znanost i visoko obrazovanje (ASHE)

Valid from
Valid until

Contact information

University of Zagreb

Executive summary

The programme Medical Studies in English (MSE) of the University of Zagreb, School of Medicine (UZSM), was assessed by the Croatian Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) and this assessment procedure took place within the framework of the Certificate for Quality in Internationalisation Project. ASHE convened an assessment panel, which studied the self-evaluation report and undertook a site visit of University of Zagreb, School of Medicine on 15th of April 2014 in Zagreb.

The establishment of the MSE programme ten years ago was based on the intention to raise visibility of the Medical Studies at UZSM and to establish a platform of mobility for both students and staff thus enhancing the quality in teaching, learning and research. From these original institutional goals, the present goals of Intended internationalisation were derived and integrated into the institutional mission: to educate physicians who will be able to function in an international environment as doctors with an intercultural mind-set that are able to cope with the growing challenges that globalisation brings into medical treatments and the patients’ needs. These goals are satisfactorily documented as well as shared and supported by stakeholders within and outside the programme. The objectives relating to the goals are not always clearly formulated but became explicit and clear during the site visit; yet, a more explicit formulation would definitely allow easier monitoring of their achievement. MSE has implemented evaluation cycles, which also refer to internationalisation goals, yet again not always clearly outspoken. Nevertheless, measures of improvement derived from these evaluations have already been implemented, and proved to be successful as was assured in the interviews. Recommendations relate to a more explicit and more focused formulation of internationalisation objectives.

Due to the ubiquity of medicine and medical knowledge, medical studies per se integrate strong aspects of International and intercultural learning. Furthermore, MSE explicitly aims at implementing The World Federation for Medical Education Standards – a process which has already started and provides a clear link to the internationalisation goals of the programme.

The use of internationally recognised assessment methods, such as the OSCE exam format, is a very good example of how to assess students’ achievement of international and intercultural learning outcomes. The fact that graduates get smoothly integrated into the highly complex international medical job market by successfully passing different licensing procedures is a clear demonstration of the achievement of the programme’s international and intercultural learning outcomes.

The curriculum of the MSE programme integrates courses, which explicitly address international and intercultural issues in order to assure the international dimension in Teaching and learning. Innovative curricular elements such as the Clinical Rotation Course, interdepartmental courses as well as the use of problem-based learning as the major teaching method of the future provide excellent means for achieving the intended international and intercultural learning outcomes. The learning environment is impregnated by a spirit of international openness, which is brought in by the students themselves, as they come from different countries and different cultural backgrounds, but also by the international visiting professors and the interaction of these groups. In order to assure a sustainable development of innovative teaching methods a critical review of allocated resources is recommended.

The Staff engaged in the delivery of the MSE programme comes from the medical faculty of the UZSM that currently comprises a large number of academics of all ranks. The MSE teaching staff can demonstrate both international education and international experience as well as a strong expertise in international medical research. A considerable number of regularly coming international visiting professors do not only complement the faculty but also contribute the constant enhancement of international and intercultural learning aiming at the education of physicians that will be able to function well in a socio-cultural diverse context. Faculty members and administrative staff can demonstrate adequate language competencies and personal skills, which are necessary in order to work in and for an international programme. Yet, resources seem limited for the increasing number of tasks and so are the services available; thus an increase of personnel should be targeted.

As mentioned above, the programme’s internationalisation goals are to prepare future physicians for the international job market by widening the horizons of the Students, implementing an international student hub, increasing the international visibility of the programme, and strive to enhance student mobility. The current student group comprises students from 27 different countries that bring into the programme different cultures, different attitudes, different backgrounds, yet one common denominator – an international mind-set. Thus the student composition
is well in line with the programme’s internationalisation goals.

International experiences are gained through the daily interaction of the multicultural student group and their professors, through courses dealing explicitly with international and intercultural issues, lectures delivered by visiting professors from different countries, work experiences in the clinical rotation course as well as study abroad experiences. Numerous support services ranging from information, personal counselling prior to arrival in Zagreb, introduction week and introduction events to language courses are at the students’ disposal and well support the internationalisation goals of the programme.

Overall conclusion

The MSE programme initiated to raise the visibility of Medical Studies of the UZSM has developed into a programme that sets standards for medical studies to be seen as an international discipline. Thus, based on its intended internationalisation goals as well as its international and intercultural learning outcomes, the MSE programme of the University of Zagreb has successfully implemented effective internationalisation activities which demonstrably contribute to the quality of teaching and learning and embrace students, staff, experiences and services. Attracting students that bring along a specific international mind-set and intercultural openness, and monitored by people determined to “enhance a new culture of medical studies”, the MSE programme is a good example of how medical studies, which are traditionally regarded as not easily compatible with internationalisation activities, can be successfully internationalized through the implementation of new approaches in teaching and learning, through attraction and interaction of students from different cultural backgrounds and countries by offering studies in English, and staff with a clearly international background.

The panel deems the CeQuInt standards met in such a way that the MSE programme deserves the Certificate for Quality in Internationalisation.