Medical Schools “moving admissions goalposts” & Private schools cry foul over medical courses

Greg Hurst reports in The Times 22nd September 2014: Private schools cry foul over medical courses

The UK will obviously have insufficient doctors in 10 years time. If 10,000 are to emigrate and work abroad in the coming decade, we need to allow far more to train. NHSreality has called for all those deemed capable of doing medicine to be allowed to start the training courses. Some would fall out, but fewer than anyone thinks if the emphasis changes to graduate entry. I suspect all 11 who apply for each place could become doctors…. so why not let them? Rationing by deliberate undercapacity and relying on imported doctors is not good enough, or ethical.

Medical schools have been accused of moving the goalposts by changing entry requirements after some candidates have applied for places.

Head teachers of leading independent schools have commissioned an audit of published admissions criteria and demanded that these are honoured. Changes in entry rules have included not accepting A levels that pupils sat a year early and refusing to recognise certain GCSEs.

Places at medical schools are among the most sought after in higher education because of their near guarantee of highly paid work. Medical degrees have the highest graduate employment rate of any course at 99 per cent, and the third biggest average salaries six months after graduating at £28,548, tables published today in The TimesandSunday Times Good University Guide 2015 show.

With 11 applicants for every place, competition is fierce: some schools expect candidates to have at least five A* grades at GCSE and A-level grades of A*AA. They must also sit one of two tests and are interviewed to test their bedside manner.

Head teachers at leading private schools say the entry requirements have become too complex and have called on Britain’s 33 medical schools to agree a more common approach.

They have also accused some medical schools of changing their admissions rules while the application process is under way. Examples cited by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) and Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) include:

University College London said two years ago it would only recognise A levels sat in the upper sixth, or Year 13;

the University of Leeds said last year that it would not accept candidates entered for iGCSE English;

Leeds School of Medicine said last year it would only recognise AS level grades certified or “cashed in” at the end of Year 12, which not all independent schools do.

Private schools are to circulate their audit next week.

Chris Ramsey, co-chairman of the HMC/GSA committee on higher education, said: “This should also stop the practice of unwittingly unfair or clumsy changes to criteria which universities have sometimes brought in after the time at which an applicant can be expected to have any control over them.”

Mr Ramsey, headmaster of the King’s School, Chester, said admissions criteria had become “complex and esoteric”. “All medical schools are looking for the same things but cannot agree on the criteria to select them. More commonality of approach is needed,” he said.

The Medical Schools Council said: “Medical schools constantly review their selection processes to ensure that they remain fit for purpose and therefore some changes to criteria are inevitable.”

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Medical Education, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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