Numerus Clausus in Europe - Which countries use it


Medicine is a really good field and doctors are the frontline heroes. They have battled the COVID-19 and lost their lives. Many have survived and are back in the field more active than ever. Medical research, nursing, surgery, radiology, and pathology are among its disciplines.

Whether students wish to study medicine at a top Caribbean medical University, Sackler Faculty of Medicine at University of Tel Aviv, Griffith University School of Medicine, or John Hopkins University School of Medicine, or another one; they should have a look at its admission policies and requirements first.

European Union follows the Numerus Clausus (NC) meaning limited seats. Let us have a look at which countries follow it diligently.

Republic of Italy

Italian Universities have been following the Numerus Clausus (NC) ruling for medical school admissions for a long time. They also apply the same rule for pre medical courses for students which is conducted after medical school graduation.

This rule basically limits the number of available seats in medical schools and determines the number of places available other related programs apart from medicine (like nursing, radiology, dentistry etc.)


For students to gain admission, most Italian medical schools require students to clear (and possibly ace) the International Medical Admissions Test (IMAT). In case it does not apply, they should be able to clear its equivalent examinations. These exams examine the applicant’s skills in English, Logic, Chemistry, Biology, and other subjects that are required for studying medicine.

The degree of medicine in Italy often takes around 6 years to complete. When students have graduated, a 6-month clinical placement comes in. Graduates of the degree of medicine must clear a national exam so they can become registered physicians and start training.

Upon clearing such examination, graduates can start training in their respective specializations. Depending on the graduate’s area of medical specialization, the training can take 3 and 6 years. Once they clear the national exam, they then get the license to work as physicians.

Kingdom of the Netherlands

The Dutch have quite strict requirements when it comes to medical school admissions. Applicants must prove that they have studied biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Hence, they are required to take a test that tests their skills in these subjects otherwise they are ineligible.

Dutch Medical Degrees follow the categories of both the Numerus Clausus and Numerus Fixes, meaning they have Decentralized Selection Programs having limited seats. Under these rules, students can only apply for two programs in the Kingdom.

Here are the stages of medical education in the Netherlands:

·         Graduation with a bachelor’s degree in medicine, which takes 3 years. This comprises of assignments, lectures and exams.

·         Finishing a master’s degree in Medicine taking 3 more years. Students take part in different internships during these studies. They also must write a master’s degree thesis.

·         To start working as a physician, graduates must register themselves with the Royal Dutch Medical Association and undergo related training.

Students should be completely fluent in Dutch because all studies, lectures, examination, patient-physician communication and other training will be conducted in Dutch. Though 90 percent of the Dutch people in The Netherlands speak English very well (because Dutch resembles English in many ways), they prefer their native tongue.

Federative Republic of Germany

Medical schools in Germany follow the Numerus Clausus (NC) rule diligently. The country was among the first in Europe to adopt it in medical school admissions during the 20th century.

The number of places differs from one semester and year as well as from one state to another (i.e. the number of seats in Bavaria would differ from those in North-Rhine - Westphalia). To obtain admission, students must have a certain grade/set of grades in their high school studies. This helps determine a student’s ability in medicine and healthcare.

The degree of medicine in Germany can take around 6 years and 3 months for completion theoretically. This program is unique and among the highly revered ones in the whole world because it is not segregated into a bachelor's or master’s degree programs.

Once students have completed the studies, they must take the state examination upon completion of the final semester, thesis, and practical year. This then determines if they are going to be physicians or not. Other than that, all lectures, notes, books, reading material, and communication (educational and professional) will be in German.

The following stages are of the medical program in Germany:

·         Studies of stage 1 consist of 4 semesters (first three sections are of the state exam).

·         Studies of stage 2 comprise of 6 semesters.

·         Completing a practical year (PJ) at a hospital, clinic, or another healthcare setup.

·         The second and final state examination takes place. When students clear this, they officially get the license to practice medicine in Germany.