My son wants to study medicine but CAO points are very high. Are there other options?

Polish universities offer courses through English where entry is based on their own tests and interviews

My son is thinking of applying to study medicine but the CAO points may be out of reach. A neighbour’s daughter, who is studying veterinary medicine in Poland, speaks highly of their medical education system. However, he wants to return to Ireland to work after graduation. Is Poland a realistic option?

Many Irish students considering studying medicine or veterinary abroad choose Poland. Why? There are a few reasons. CAO points or Hpat (Health Professions Admissions Test) results are not a deciding factor. Colleges, instead, have their own tests and interviews which focus on competency in chemistry, biology and maths, alongside other assessments tests.

Applicants for medical and para medical programmes apply to each individual institution and navigate through the various requirements, forms, documents and deadlines. In all, there are 11 public Polish universities that deliver medicine and four veterinary courses taught through English. In 2022, for example, more Irish students started veterinary medicine in Poland than in Ireland.

I’m often asked if students have to learn Polish. The language is taught as a module in the first year to medical students. It’s beneficial to learn basic Polish, to maximise your clinical experience in third year. The entire programme, including clinics, however, is delivered in English. Medical students can get by knowing a handful of Polish sentences and a few dozen words. Veterinary students don’t need any proficiency in Polish.


Getting a degree in medicine in Poland does not automatically grant you the right to practise in Ireland.

Like Irish medical graduates at home, most Irish coming back from Poland choose to complete a one-year internship with the HSE or a two-year one in the UK with the NHS.

In Ireland, before the internship, they need to pass a two-part intern employment eligibility assessment that verifies knowledge of Irish legal medicine, national prescribing practices, communication and language skills and health and safety issues.

Students can pick up all of these required skills and understanding of the system during obligatory summer placements. In many cases, students arrange placements for a substantial part of their final (sixth) year in Poland also, which helps them with the transition into the HSE internship and senior house officer jobs later.

Another factor to consider is cost. Medical students in Poland bear tuition fees of €11,000-14 000 per year. The fees for veterinary are lower at €8,000-10,000. Irish students can typically get by on €450-500 per month, including accommodation, food, books, transport and a modest social life, which compares favourably to Irish costs of living away from home.

If you’re thinking of applying, many Irish applicants use the central application support services of the Medical Poland Admissions Office ( or Eunicas ( Both organisations have supported hundreds of Irish students annually to secure places in Polish universities.