The Deanery of the International Education today unites over 1,700 foreign students. The schooling of the students in YSMU's General Medicine, Dental and Pharmacy Faculties is conducted in three languages: Armenian, Russian and English. The first international students were Armenian Diaspora from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Cyprus, Greece and Bulgaria. YSMU has been training and preparing doctors for other countries for more than 60 years. Nowadays, students from 32 countries all over the world are trained for doctors. The process of internationalization remains a major goal for the medical university, and that is why new prerequisites are created year by year.
We talked with Gayane Avetisyan, Dean of the International education, about the issues related to international students; the role of education and the Deanery and their work.
- When it comes to university success, the number of international students is always mentioned, which is increasing year by year. Why do they choose Armenia , especially YSMU?
- Armenia is a safe country for international students. YSMU has a 100-year history and throughout its one-century activity, it has trained thousands of doctors, who have continued their activities outside Armenia and have recorded serious results. The reputation of YSMU, its education and its success are a reason for international students to prefer Armenia, YSMU.
- What are the peculiarities of teaching to foreigners? How is the teaching done?
- Teaching is organized in three languages: Armenian, Russian and English. It is important to establish and maintain contact with students since there is a difference between language, religion and culture. In this case, the role of the lecturers is also essential. They should be experienced and able to communicate equally with students of different nationalities and religions. The students' education at the University is based on state and international standards of higher education.
- From what countries are most of the students and which faculties do they prefer?
-Today, Indian students are mostly dominating, who mostly choose the general medicine faculty. Iranian students prefer dental and pharmaceutical faculties. We also have students from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, CIS countries, Georgia, the United States, including Armenian Diaspora students.
- What problems do foreign students face and how are they integrated? What are the main functions of the Deanery?
-The problems in the field of foreign students are always in the center of attention. Because they live in our country without parents, even their personal problems are under our control. There are also ongoing issues related to learning.
The Deanery supports the integration of foreign students into the inner-student environment and provides parental care. Foreign students actively participate in scientific, educational, cultural and other events of the University.
They are quite active. For example, Indian, Iranian students usually celebrate national holidays, while informing the local students about them. The Deanery, with love and readiness, supports foreign students for organization of celebrations dedicated to national and religious holidays.
We plan to create an environment in which our foreign students will be able to get acquainted with Armenia, our historical and cultural places and values.
The Deanery carries out educational, methodological, scientific, organizational and other types of activities, systematizes daily work of chairs and students.
- What steps are being taken to increase the number of foreign students?
- In order to increase the flow of students, we must continually improve the quality of education, add and use modern technical methods of training and contemporary professional literature. During the study, students study both theoretical and clinical subjects. Particular attention is paid to the acquisition of practical skills of students at the university's simulation center, university clinics and laboratories. If graduates obtain high level of knowledge, practical skills and satisfaction from the university's education, then more new students will be available later as YSMU's foreign students are our ambassadors in other countries.
- How would you evaluate the progress of foreign students? Do they continue their professional activities after graduating and returning to their country?
- The progress is quite high among English-speaking students. Foreign students successfully pass their licensing exams in their countries and continue their professional activities. We always keep in touch with our graduates and our informed about their success, which makes us very proud.
- How did you choose your profession?
- I have dreamed about becoming a doctor since I was a child, all my games and toys were related to my doctor's profession. I studied at YSMU in 1988-1994, during the worst years for Armenia, as I chose a general surgeon profession. In parallel with studying, I was in the hospital and in those years I had seen cases of traumatic, gunshot wounds. I studied and worked with great love. I have been teaching at the university for 21 years already. Being a doctor and a lecturer are just like my favorite professions. Each lecturer is obliged to create love for his subject. From my own experience, I can say that in the case of the teacher's right approach, teaching is more effective.
-As a new dean, what changes are you planning?
-According to my vision, I divided the work into three parts: work with students, work with chairs, and extracurricular work. Students should understand that the Deanery is their home and any issue is always in the center of attention. We plan to create active student groups (Indians, Iranians, Armenians) with their presidents, who will keep the connection between student and the Deanery. Due to regular work with chairs we will get acquainted with the process of students' learning, about student progress and discipline, and if there are problematic issues, we will find a solution together with the chair to ensure proper progress. As a result of extracurricular work, we will visit dormitories to get acquainted with the life of the students and organize various events to unite and motivate foreign students.
Interview by Margarita Mkhitaryan
Photos from Gayane Avetisyan's personal
archive and Karen Serobyan