The University of Parma

The University of Parma (UniPr) is among the oldest academic institutions in Europe, founded in 962. The main building is located right in the city centre. Moreover, Parma is one of the few universities with a proper campus, called “Parco Area delle Scienze”, which also hosts a congress centre, libraries, study halls and many laboratories. 

The Medical School of the University of Parma has now opened a novel Medicine & Surgery course, entirely held in English, in the city of Piacenza, which offers a hospital system uniquely dedicated to the new medical degree. 

Medicine and surgery

The English course in Medicine and Surgery started in 2021. Therefore, since it’s pretty recent, only two academic years are active so far. 

In the 2022/2023 academic year, this course holds a total of 100 places, divided as follows: 

  • 60 for EU citizens and non-EU ones living in Italy 
  • 40 for non-EU citizens resident abroad

Please be advised that this number might change in the following years.

Position:

At the moment, lessons are being held at Collegio Alberoni, a Roman Catholic seminary in Piacenza. The complex also includes a prominent art gallery, Galleria Alberoni, an astronomical observatory, a museum of natural sciences, a library, and the church of San Lazzaro. However, this location is only temporary: a new campus is currently being built nearby that should host all the students together, which should be ready in the next few years.

The University of Parma is relatively easy to reach: you can take the “MB bus”, which passes every 5 to 10 minutes, and get off at the stop “Via E. Parmense, 65 (Università Cattolica)”. Alternatively, Piacenza is a cosy city, where almost everyone owns a bike, which you can also park right in front of the main building. 

However, don’t fear if you’re a fan of driving: there is also a parking space right outside the University, where you can leave your car without any issues. 

Suppose you are looking for accommodations in Piacenza. In that case, we can recommend the area from the city centre to where the University is located; since it’s not a huge metropolis, you can reach Collegio Alberoni from the city centre in only 20 minutes on foot. Be careful, though, and avoid the areas nearby Piacenza train station. 

From the second semester of the third year, clerkships will officially start: for now, they will take place in Piacenza Hospital. It’s probable that, later on, the Central Military Hospital of Piacenza might be reopened and turned into a teaching hospital. 

Educational plan

Medicine and surgery educational plan is divided into preclinical years (the first and the second) and the clinical ones from the third year. In the preclinical years, exams are integrated, which means they comprise more subjects altogether; then, the length becomes more standard. 

Lectures are mainly frontal and marginally asynchronous to encourage students to learn through other teaching methods. 

One big difference and improvement from many other schools is that each semester, students can choose between different multidisciplinary activities that will help them acquire new skills necessary to become good medical doctors. For example, there is a course aimed at learning basic suture techniques during the second semester of the first year or an activity teaching how to read and interpret scientific literature. This allows for a hands-on approach early in your career; however, it also means that the educational plan is partially up to the single student. All current students must submit their programme of study online via the Esse3 system.  

There are, so far, some blocks within the first two years: for example, to sit for the two exams of the second semester of the first year, you must pass “Cells and Tissues” and “Physico-Chemical Bases of Life” or, to sit for Physiology, you must also give “Human Anatomy & Organogenesis”. Modalities for the following years have yet to be defined; however, there is a requirement for international students: having a certificate of at least a B2 level of Italian is mandatory to begin third-year clerkships. The university doesn’t hold Italian lessons during school hours, but it gives many chances to follow online courses to catch up. 

First-year

Lessons usually start around half of October. Professors are often the same as those from the University of Parma; therefore, they are Italians teaching in English. In the first year, you will have six exams, four in the first semester and two in the second. 

First semester: 

  • Cells and tissues (9 CFUs): divided into applied biology, histology and microbiology. It has multiple choice written exams with a couple of open questions and a slide examination for histology. 
  • Molecular Biology, Genetics & Genomics (6 CFUs): another multiple choice written examination dealing with Medical Genetics e Molecular Biology. 
  • Physico-Chemical Bases of Life (8 CFUs): one of the prerequisites to sit for biochemistry in the second semester; it’s once again a multiple-choice written exam on Physics and Chemistry. 
  • Statistics, Research Methodology & Safety Regulation (5 CFUs): This topic comprises:
    • Medical Statistics, which teaches how to interpret medical and scientific data; 
    • Occupational Medicine, which is all about keeping workers healthy and workplaces safe; 
    • Public Health, which explains how the Italian healthcare system works, prevention and hygiene.  

It’s a 61 multiple choice quiz to be done in 90 minutes divided into three different parts: 31 questions on Medical Statistics (minimum 18/31 correct to pass), 15 questions on Public Health (minimum 8/15 correct to pass) and 15 questions on Occupational Medicine (minimum 8/15 correct to pass). If you fail one of those, you must retake the whole exam. 

Second semester: 

  • Biochemistry (12 CFUs): 23 multiple choice questions and two open questions in 60 minutes on different Biochemistry topics.  
  • Human Anatomy & Organogenesis (12 CFUs): this is the first and only oral examination of the year, comprised of two parts, one on anatomy and the second on embryology. It’s a pretty challenging exam.  

Attendance is mandatory at 66%. Students must sign an attendance sheet at the beginning of every lecture. If you miss over 34% of all lessons for a class, you will not be allowed to sit for the exam.

Lessons start at 10.30 am, with an hour lunch break around 1.30 pm, and then go on until 5.30 pm, or sometimes 4.30 pm. For further information, the timetable for all years is available here.

Pros of the University of Parma

  • Professors are readily available to answer questions and very open to dialogue with students. 
  • The secretary’s office for the course is placed inside Collegio Alberoni, which gives you direct contact in case of any issues, without needing to go directly to Parma.
  • There is a good number of Italians attending classes, but also of people from all over the world: this creates a cosmopolitan environment that allows one to get in touch with different cultures and traditions.
  • Being in the same place as students from the upper years allows you to meet and interact with older pupils, who are nice and more than willing to clarify your doubts.
  • Most professors have a good level of English and are easy to follow during lessons
  • Studying in English will allow you to fully comprehend and analyse all medical and scientific research.
  • The English degree is equivalent to the Italian one; they are equally recognised in Italy and the EU. For non-EU countries, it is necessary to check individual regulations. After graduation, you can register for the Postgraduate test in Italy.
  • Having a separate and exclusive hospital allows you to see better what’s going on in the different wards without sharing it with the Italian Medicine campus. 
  • Collegio Alberoni is easily accessible by bus, car or bike, and it’s close to another Italian University (Cattolica University of Law and Economics), which creates a pleasant University environment
  • Piacenza is a small, University city that is also full of life and young students: every week, for example, there is the so-called “Mercoledì Universitario” (literally “University Wednesday”), where students from different faculties meet in various city bars. 

Cons of the University of Parma

  • There is not an actual campus yet, but some rooms inside Collegio Alberoni, even though the new building should be completed soon. 
  • Being such a new course, there are still some organisational problems: for example, professors usually arrive from Parma; therefore, they might be a bit late.
  • Medical terminology in Italian and English is similar but not identical: this implies that, during clerkships, it’s mandatory to learn also the medical expressions in Italian to communicate better with patients and doctors.

Lunch and libraries

Being inside the city has the advantage of finding many different shops and restaurants that can be reached on foot in just 10 minutes, but you can also eat fast food like McDonald’s, which is close by. However, the main attraction is Porta San Lazzaro Mall which has cute places to eat and shop. 

Unfortunately, there is no canteen to eat, nor microwaves to heat home-cooked meals inside Collegio Alberoni; you can use the ones from Cattolica University, but it’s usually very full. Therefore, students usually go to a restaurant nearby or bring food from home and eat it in the study hall or at Cattolica. 

There is a study hall right before the secretary’s office, with around 20 places to study and discuss with peers. Alternatively, if you prefer to study in silence, there are different libraries around Piacenza. There are a couple of main libraries where students from different faculties meet: 

  • Passerini – Landi Library; 
  • Braille Maria Motta National Library; 
  • Politecnico Library.

One library holds medical and scientific literature, Piacenza USL Library in Via Taverna 49.  There are many free public libraries in Piacenza freely accessible by anyone: for more information, you can visit this link

Studying abroad

There are more than 2000 scholarships that the University of Parma makes available for a period of study abroad through the Call for European and International Mobility. For more information: study abroad

The exchange initiatives provide access to funding to spend a period of study, from two to twelve months, in international universities thanks to over 800 bilateral agreements that the UniPr has signed. 

Overall, Medicine students can participate in the ERASMUS+ programme, where they will also compete with peers with the Italian degree. Partnerships are mainly with Universities in Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece or Romania. 

Another important initiative is the Overworld programme, aimed at expanding study and mobility opportunities towards non-European universities with an active international cooperation agreement with the University of Parma. Unfortunately, a few universities are available for medicine, only in Brazil. 

Lastly, as of January 1st 2023, the University of Parma is a partner in the European university alliance EU GREEN (European Universities Alliance for Sustainability, Responsible GRowth, Inclusive Education and ENvironment). In addition to the University of Parma, the collaboration involves multiple universities all over Europe (such as Spain, Ireland, Romania, France, Poland and many others). The aim is to create an open academic environment, thanks to which all students can participate in different projects offered by individual universities, mainly on sustainability.

Secretary’s office

Main office: 

Address:  

Via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma (PR) 

Phone: 

+39 0521 033700

Email: 

[email protected] 

Hours: 

You can book an appointment through EASYAcademy. You will be received either Mondayvia teams only (from 9 am to 12 noon) or Thursday, at the student secretarial offices (from 11 am to 1 pm).

Phoning hours: 

  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 9.00 – 12.00 am
  • Thursday 9.00 am – 1.00 pm

Medicine and surgery office: 

Address:  

Via Emilia Parmense, 77, 29122 Piacenza (PC) at Collegio Alberoni

Phone: 

+39 0521 903900

Email: 

[email protected] 

Hours: 

From Monday to Friday from 9 to 12 am and from 2.30 to 4.30 pm. 

Enrolment 

If you successfully pass the IMAT test, you can proceed with enrolment

  • First of all, it is necessary to register in the reserved area;
  • Log in with your credentials and the password obtained through registration;
  • Click on “Registrar’s Office” > “Enrolment”;
  • Choose the course of study by entering the required data and documents (digital passport photo, scanned fiscal code, scanned personal identification document entered during the registration and, for non-EU students, also the scanned residence permit.);
  • Download, print and sign the enrolment application;
  • Make the payment of the first instalment by MAV or IUV bulletin;
  • Send an email to [email protected] by 11 a.m. on the deadline day, with the subject “Surname + First name + chosen course of study”, enclosing the enrolment application and the receipt of payment of the first instalment, to enable online enrolment to be activated.

It is advisable to complete the registration procedure a bit in advance to facilitate the activation by the university. Students with an international diploma must also bring their graduation certificate to the Medicine and Surgery Secretary’s office on the first day. 

Transferring

A student enrolled at another university who wishes to study at UniPr may apply for a transfer.

If the student is already enrolled at the University of Parma but wishes to change the degree course, they may apply for a change of course. For more information: Transfers and transitions

Scholarships

The University of Parma provides qualifying students with financial support throughout their careers. Students of any course can apply for a full tuition waiver if they meet one or more of the following criteria: 

  • ​​Students with recognition of disability
  • Students children of recipients of the disability pension,
  • Students holding ER-GO Scholarship 
  • international students who are beneficiaries of Italian Government Scholarship
  • ​Students performing care for a family member (Care Givers)

There are several types of scholarships, mainly classified by the source of the funds. For example, Er.Go is the Agency that deals with the right to study in Emilia-Romagna since scholarships are announced at the regional level in Italy. In addition to being exempt from paying university fees, those who win this scholarship receive an annual sum that varies according to the value of their ISEE and their status as on-campus studentsoff-campus students or commuters. The application has two specific requirements: one economic, with specific ISEE and ISPE thresholds, and one due to merit. 

Moreover, there are benefits only due to merit, reductions depending on the graduation grade or a specific award named “Anna Mattioli” for Ukrainian students. 

For more information, visit Tuition Waiver and fee reductions

Accomodations

The University of Parma, through its Accommodation Service and ER.GO., offer assistance to students seeking accommodation in the city and province. There are several options to find housing:

  • Search for housing independently through tools outside the University or by taking advantage of the service of “Vetrina alloggi”made available by the University to facilitate the search for stable accommodation and obtain more guarantees in the relationship with those who own the property;
  • Search for housing thanks to the support of the staff of the University Accommodation Service, either through Accommodation and Inclusion Center (CAI) throughout the year or at the “Welcome Point Matricole” from July 1st to October 30th;
  • Request access to an Er.Go residency if you are off-site and meet specific financial and merit requirements;

There is an alternative: the city of Piacenza offers accommodations for students. Some indeed belong to other Universities, like Cattolica University, where students attending different schools can apply for a room. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Piacenza is one of the most charming cities in Italy, that not only has deep historical and culinary traditions but was also recently crowned as the city with the best quality of life for young people. You will have a blast studying here!

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