Official partnership strengthens Aston Medical School plans

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The FINANCIAL — Aston University’s initiative for a medical school in the heart of Birmingham has been officially endorsed and guaranteed by Leicester Medical School.

Aston University and the University of Leicester have signed an official partnership agreement this week (Tuesday 16th).

Aston Medical School is planned to open to 60 undergraduate medical students in autumn 2017, growing to around 100 new medical students each year. It includes a research institute focused on cardiovascular diseases, maternity and child health. Aston Medical Research Institute is addressing the challenge of high perinatal mortality and also pre-eclampsia, a dangerous hypertensive complication of pregnancy.

The University will adopt Leicester Medical School’s new five year curriculum plan. Leicester Medical School, established in 1975, is acting as guarantor to the new Aston Medical School and its curriculum to support the process of General Medical Council approval, according to Aston University.

The School, which will be based on Aston’s City Centre campus in Birmingham, is backed by Trusts and Primary Care practices throughout the region and will have a strong emphasis on individual scholarships and financial assistance programmes to encourage social mobility in medicine for students in the West Midlands.

A total of 20 medical scholarships will be specifically earmarked for students within Birmingham and the Black Country from ‘hard to reach communities’. The remainder will be open to international-fee paying students, which will in-turn help to fund the scholarship programme and bring new employment opportunities and funds into the City.

The official partnership was signed by Professor Dame Julia King, Vice Chancellor of Aston University, and Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester.

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Speaking at the signing, Dame Julia, said: “Aston has a proud heritage in subjects allied to medicine. A new Medical School, endorsed by the University of Leicester, will develop new doctors for the region, improve social mobility and greatly benefit the region’s health and economy.”

Professor Paul Boyle, said: “Improving access to higher education in general and medical training in particular is a key priority for our University. Leicester is among the UK’s leading universities with a strong record for social inclusivity and this partnership strengthens our mission to remove barriers and reduce inequalities in higher education provision.”

Professor Asif Ahmed, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health at Aston University and Executive Dean of Aston Medical School, said: “The partnership between Aston and Leicester medical schools is a new model for the Midlands in health for healthy living through medical research and education. I am excited at the prospect of delivering a medical school which is low cost to the public purse and helps to redress  the imbalance in medical outcomes amongst the people of our city, and inspires children in schools with the highest index of deprivation to aspire to greater heights.”

Professor Nick London, Associate Dean of Leicester Medical School, said: “Leicester Medical School is absolutely delighted that Aston University has decided to use the Leicester undergraduate medical curriculum for their new medical course.  In particular, Leicester Medical School is delighted to be able to contribute to such an innovative approach for helping and encouraging students from deprived backgrounds to enter medicine.”

Professor Andrew Fry, Director of Research in the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology at Leicester, added: “This partnership not only cements the close relationship between the Leicester and Aston Medical Schools, but also opens up exciting new opportunities for collaboration between the institutions in medical research.”

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Trainee doctors at Aston Medical School will study for five years, and qualify with an MBChB degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery).

The Boards of the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust; Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust; Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group;  Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust have all given formal approval for their organisations to partner with Aston Medical School.

The new Medical School will build upon Aston University’s pioneering health research, including optometry, age-related illnesses such as dementia and chronic diseases including diabetes. The University is also home to the Aston Brain Centre, which specialises in epilepsy, dyslexia, autism, ADHD and sleeping disorders. It provides a referral service for the National Health Service and houses a brain scanner specifically for children – one of only three in the world.   


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