Dr. Stavros Malas – Professor of Mammalian Developmental Neuroscience and Genetics at the University of Nicosia Medical School

“The Financial Times ranked Nicosia as the number one city under 500,000 in Europe for lifestyle and education”

HOSPITALS magazine had the privilege to meet with Dr. Stavros Malas, Professor of Mammalian Developmental Neuroscience and Genetics at the University of Nicosia Medical School to talk about his background and career, and tell us more about the University of Nicosia Medical School, their affiliations among others. Below is the full interview:

Let’s start with a little background info about your career, and how you ended up here at the University of Nicosia Medical School? 

Having finished my studies in London, I have worked for several years at the UK Medical Research where I developed several projects in how specific sets of genes control fetal brain development in mice. I have continued this work in Cyprus, where I founded the first and only unit for producing genetically modified animals.

In 2011, I have taken a short break from academic life and served as a Minister of Health of the Republic of Cyprus for a period of fourteen months. As a strong believer in quality Medical Education, I had pushed through the legal and regulatory framework, which led to the establishment of three Medical Schools, one public (national) and two private (international).

I am pleased to see all three Schools thriving, training between them more than 300 students annually making a very positive financial and reputational contribution to Cyprus. Two years ago, I have been recruited by the University of Nicosia to help in the development of a Veterinary School, to run alongside the Medical School. These are exciting times for the University, which aspires to become a leading regional educational establishment of international programs in such highly competitive fields of study, as Human and Animal Medicine.  

How many people do you administer? Can you tell us about the staff and doctors who teach at your university?

The School has more than 600 contributing staff and faculty. As a multicultural University, our staff and faculty reflect this diverse background. We have clinical placements in four countries, so our clinical education department is similarly diverse which impacts students’ holistic understanding of medicine being able to learn and work with global professionals.

What are the medical programs you offer at the institute? In which language you teach? And what admission test a student needs to get into your school?

We offer the six medical programs below, which are all taught in English: 

Medical Programs

  • Doctor of Medicine (MD), a 6-year undergraduate-entry degree quality assured by the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) via the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (CYQAA) and awarded by University of Nicosia Medical School.
  • St George’s, University of London Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), a 4-year graduate-entry British medical degree quality assured by the UK General Medical Council and awarded by St George’s, University of London.
  • Master of Public Health (MPH), a fully online degree for working professionals and new graduates.
  • Master in Family Medicine (MSc FM), a degree for practicing doctors delivered entirely online.
  • Master of Science in Health Services Administration (MHSA), a fully online degree for working professionals and new graduates.
  • Doctorate in Medical Sciences (Ph.D.), for research in all disciplines or specialties of Medicine.
  • The admissions requirements vary depending on the program, so you can visit our website for specifics. 

What are the conditions for students to apply and get accepted at the medical school? And what about the foreign students coming from abroad?

The University of Nicosia Medical School is truly multicultural, so foreign students come from around the world to attend. We host more than 1,000 students from 64 countries, coming from as far away as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Parents are comforted by the fact that Cyprus is ranked the safest country in the world for people aged 15 to 29 by the World Health Organization, and its people are famous for the warm and friendly welcome they extend to visitors. The Financial Times ranked Nicosia as the number one city under 500,000 in Europe for lifestyle and education. 

The majority of our programs begin in the autumn, so prospective students must complete their application and other requirements to be considered for entry prior to the start of the academic term. 

Do you have any affiliations with medical schools outside Cyprus? 

We have a long-standing partnership with St George’s, University of London. This 250+-year-old university is the only specialist medical and healthcare higher education institution in the United Kingdom. Partnering with the University of Nicosia (UNIC), the largest university in Cyprus, St George’s offers students the graduate-entry 4-year MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) program in Nicosia, Cyprus since 2011. This truly patient-centered program provides students with a global approach to medicine.

Below are some of our other international partnerships:

  • UK Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP)
  • Karolinska Institutet, Sweden 
  • Universidad de Oviedo, Spain
  • Royal College of Surgeons of England 

What are the advantages you offer to students compared to other med schools and where do you position yourself in the ranking worldwide? 

The University of Nicosia continues to strive for excellence globally. The 2020 Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Rankings, ranked the University of Nicosia (UNIC) as the number 42 university in the world in the core area of Quality Education, and among the top 301-400 universities globally in terms of its overall social and economic impact.

It was the first University in the EU to be awarded 5 QS Stars in Distance Education and the first university globally to receive triple accreditation for its online learning quality. Our University has been a pioneer in online/distance learning education in Europe, supporting both its own degree programs, as well as those of its joint degree partners. This online expertise has proved exceptional to curricula delivery while transitioning to blended learning to meet public health regulations during the pandemic.

In comparing other med schools, there are several advantages: 

With such a global population of students, we are proud of our graduates practicing as physicians across the world, including the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, EU countries, Israel, Lebanon and others. The Medical School Careers Office is devoted to student success evident by the 99% post-graduate placement rate at medical centres worldwide. More specifically, the Doctor of Medicine (MD) graduates have reached an absolute 100% employability record and for the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) graduates this percentage was 99.35%.

Students are matched with a personal tutor from day one and have regular one-on-one meetings with our career advisers to track their studies, steps to practice in the country they wish to work. By outlining these pathways to practice, all students can plan with Career Advisers to put together timelines and application requirements based on the country and specialty they are seeking to practice in the future. 

All incoming students at the University of Nicosia Medical School are guaranteed accommodation in our brand-new student residences which redefine modern student living. They consist of three separate complexes – SIX, U and TRIANGLE – which are among the most stunning student accommodations constructed in Europe. 

The combination of a multicultural population, modern infrastructure, English language knowledge, reasonable cost of living, rich history and a beautiful natural environment makes it an ideal place to study for our global student body.

What kind of research opportunities do you offer to your students?

Students have many opportunities for research at our school: 

  • Students in the MBBS, MD and Master’s programs can do research projects as part of their degrees.
  • We also run the Students in Research Programme in which students can engage with research projects outside their curriculum. Faculty offers a variety of research projects which include original research projects (e.g. lab-based projects, questionnaire surveys, systematic reviews and narrative reviews, etc.). 
  • Students can also engage in ongoing research projects by contacting faculty directly or by contacting the Associate Dean for Research. 

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