GMC Recognition of European Medical Universities – How To Check?

One question that arises when considering universities that are lesser known is whether the university will be recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC) upon graduation. In this article, we will investigate this topic in more depth and help you understand how you can research university accreditation yourself when choosing a university.

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What Does Accreditation Mean?

Let’s clear up some confusion about “GMC Accreditation/Recognition.”

The General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK manages the list of registered medical practitioners, sets standards for doctors, and oversees medical education and training in the UK. The GMC does not directly accredit or recognize universities outside the UK. Instead, it provides guidance on what it considers acceptable qualifications.

Qualifications fall into three categories according to GMC guidance:

  1. UK medical school qualifications.
  2. Relevant European qualifications (from EEA countries).
  3. Qualifications from outside the UK or EEA.

Qualifications from Switzerland are treated the same as relevant European qualifications.

Whether your qualification is acceptable to the GMC depends on the country you graduated from. Let’s dive into each category.

UK Medical School Qualifications

UK qualifications are directly regulated by the GMC and are always acceptable for obtaining your medical license in the UK. Since our focus is on qualifications outside the UK, we won’t discuss this further.

Qualifications from EEA Countries (Relevant European Qualifications)

If you graduated from a university in the European Economic Area (EEA), the GMC will accept your qualification as a “Relevant European Qualification.” Each EEA country has guidelines for their qualifications to be recognized. Essentially the guidelines ask that the qualification be listed in their list and that the start date of your course be after the country had joined the EEA.

For example, in Poland, the degree must be a “Higher Education Medical Diploma with the title ‘Lekarza,’” and the course must have started after May 1, 2004.

You can find the full list of recognized EEA country qualifications on the GMC website: European Economic Area country qualifications – GMC

Any university that is located within the EEA, providing medical qualifications that is recognised within that own country and you have started the course after the country has joined the EEA will be compliant with GMC regulations. This means studying at a lesser-known university within an EEA country will not have any impact on the validity of the qualification in the UK. They are all treated the same no matter where you are qualifying.

Qualifications from Outside the UK or EEA

Graduating from a non-EEA country is trickier. The GMC doesn’t directly accredit any university outside the UK but has strict guidelines for acceptable degrees. If a course doesn’t meet these guidelines, the GMC may put the university on their “Do Not Accept” or “May Accept” list. Here are the criteria:

The World Directory of Medical Schools is a list recognized by the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME). The GMC uses this list to determine if a qualification is acceptable. However, the qualification must also meet further criteria.

  • Program Duration: Must include at least 5,500 contact hours over three years.

The qualification you’re studying must have at least 5,500 contact hours and last a minimum of three years. If the course has fewer hours, the GMC will not deem the qualification acceptable. If the university offers multiple courses, some students may complete the required hours. In this case, the qualification might go on the “May Accept” list, meaning the GMC will first double-check your hours. This doesn’t exclude the university entirely but means students must ensure they meet the full required hours.

The universities we partner with at MedConnect all offer a minimum of 5,500 contact hours, making their courses GMC compliant.

  • Clinical Rotations: Must include appropriate clinical experience as part of your qualification or during a pre-graduate internship (if applicable).
  • No Entirely Virtual Courses: Your qualification cannot be obtained entirely online.

This is crucial when choosing a medical school. Be wary of universities claiming you can “study medicine online,” as these courses might not be acceptable to the GMC. It’s best to choose universities that don’t offer such courses to ensure credibility.

There are further criteria for transfer students and graduate entry students, but we will discuss those another time. As a new student, these are the main guidelines you must consider when choosing a medical university.

If your chosen university follows these guidelines and the GMC hasn’t placed it on the “Do Not Accept” list, you should have no problems upon graduation.

For more details, check out the GMC’s criteria: Our criteria for acceptable overseas qualifications – GMC

Do Not Accept List

If a university is on the “Do Not Accept” list, it means the GMC has previously assessed their qualifications and found them unacceptable based on the guidelines mentioned. This list is based on qualifications received from graduates applying for a UK medical license.

For example, if a university is offering their qualification after completing the course entirely virtually. The GMC after checking the qualification, will put this university in this list.

The full list is available here: Overseas medical qualifications we do not accept – GMC

We May Accept List

Universities on this list offer some courses that meet GMC criteria and others that don’t. The GMC double-checks qualifications from these institutions. There may be many reasons why a university offers multiple courses with some not being acceptable to the GMC.

For example, they may have a separate course tailored for students who want to sit the USMLE and practice in the USA, which doesn’t follow the same restrictions as the GMC. As such, the university might offer a different course for those students, or allow fewer study hours if they don’t need them for GMC compliance.

Being on the “We May Accept” list doesn’t automatically mean the university is not recognized or that you will have issues with the GMC. As long as you verify that your course meets the GMC guidelines, being on this list won’t cause problems. However, it’s essential to confirm that the course you choose is tailored for GMC compliance. If you are applying to a university on this list through our agency, we will ensure you are on the right course that is GMC compliant.

You may choose to study at one of these institutions because it fits your budget or entry requirements. While the list should be considered, it shouldn’t be the sole reason to avoid a medical school.

Check the list here: Overseas medical qualifications we may accept – GMC

We hope this article helps you understand the recognition of medical degrees in the UK and guides you in choosing the right university. If you have any questions or need more information about your specific case, email us at

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