On the first days of 2019, representatives of Vilnius University’s (VU) Faculty of Medicine visited the Medical Doctor International Academy Study Fair in Tel Aviv, Israel, where they introduced medicine and dentistry studies to young Israelis. During their visit Vilnius University’s team also conducted motivational interviews with prospective students.
During the fair, representatives from various universities introduced their institutions and talked with prospective students and their relatives. Universities from the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Croatia, Italy and Lithuania presented their study programmes in English. Faculty of Medicine participated in this fair for the fifth year in a row. This year Vice-Dean for Studies Prof. Vaiva Hendrixson, International Studies coordinators Justė Andrikonytė and Jekaterina Soldatova, public relations representative Lina Kocienė, and third-year medical student Gal Zim teamed up to represent the faculty and the country.
“Students from Israel make up a significant portion of our students. From my personal perspective, Israeli students are more motivated and better prepared for their studies. They begin studying after compulsory military service, so they are older, more mature, more experienced, and know what they want”, Dr Hendrixson said.
Most universities that participate in this fair have several decades of experience in organising international studies. They have large international alumni associations, admit over a hundred new students each year and take pride in their expertise. For Vilnius University’s Faculty of Medicine to compete among such strong institutions is no small feat. Moreover – the interest in studies at VU is increasing every year.
“We don’t want to just admit as many students as possible. Our goal is to select those who really want to study at Vilnius University and have already heard about (or even visited) Lithuania. Strong motivation is one of the most important factors. It is disappointing when a new student drops out after a few weeks – we could have chosen someone with more motivation instead. We work hard to minimise such situations”, Justė Andrikonytė, coordinator of International Studies, said.
A third-year medicine student Gal Zim participated in the fair together with the team last year, and decided to join them this year as well. “A chat with a current student always gives the applicants more information and confidence. We have no clue what they say to each other in Hebrew, but it is obvious that the people he talks to are satisfied and return for a more detailed conversation about study opportunities. We are looking forward to having our first alumni from Israel – then we will be able to compete with other universities,” Prof Hendrixson said.
So far, it is difficult to predict how many students from Israel will apply to Vilnius University this year. Nevertheless, representatives from the faculty had a chance to meet potential candidates, talk to them in person, and tell them more about VU, Lithuania, its people, culture and traditions. “The personality and character of a person is revealed during those talks. In all cases, a direct conversation is invaluable. In addition, such visits are a great opportunity to evaluate how we look compared to other universities. It is easier to understand which areas need to be improved”, Lina Kocienė said.
In 2019, Vilnius University’s Faculty of Medicine expects to admit 85 students to study medicine and 20 – to the dental study programme