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Germany: Saxony-Anhalt finances education abroad to retain brain drain

This September twenty German students will have the chance to start their medical studies, even if their high school GPA wasn’t high enough to access to a German university. In fact, in spite of the fierce competitiveness for places in medicine courses due to the nationwide numerus clausus, an option to bypass this threshold is offered by the EU Structural Funds together with the Physicians' Association of Saxony-Anhalt (Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Sachsen-Anhalt - KVSA), financing every year the amount of nearly EUR 80 000 to 20 students in order to cover their tuition fees at the University of Pécs, an expensive medical school in Hungary. The condition is that students must complete their studies within the period of twelve semesters and then settle down for at least five years as general practitioners in rural Saxony, "outside the cities of Chemnitz, Dresden, Leipzig and Radebeul" as the tender explicitly specifies. Those who do not abide by the contract, must repay the tuition fees at an interest rate of 5%.

The initiative is part of a pilot project of the state of Saxony-Anhalt, titled 'Study in Europe - future in Saxony' to combat the shortage of doctors in the countryside of the region. The first round of 20 students has been already sent for the academic year 2013/14, while 20 others are starting this fall, and the same amount will begin in the academic year 2015/16. Similar projects, supporting students to study abroad in return of a commitment to work back in their home country, are becoming increasingly popular both at regional and national level. This year, also Russia launched its 'Global Education Programme', allowing 3 000 Russian students to pursue graduate and postgraduate studies in the world’s leading universities in exchange of the obligation to return to Russia after graduation and work in the country for at least three years (see ACA Newsletter- Education Europe, Edition April 2014).