The FINANCIAL — A major expansion of home student places at the new Aston Medical School will enable aspiring doctors from less advantaged backgrounds to break into the medical profession.
Following a nationwide competition to secure new medical school places announced by the Government, 100 new government-funded places will be made available at Aston University’s new medical school in central Birmingham.
Opening its doors to its first cohort of students this September, Aston Medical School’s mission is to become the most socially-inclusive institution of its kind in the UK, with up to 40% of its intake coming from widening participation backgrounds in Birmingham, the surrounding areas and further afield, according to Aston University.
In its successful bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Health Education England (HEE), the University also set out how Aston Medical School would meet regional health needs, for example, by focusing on key areas of shortage including general practice, psychiatry and mental health.
Research into the backgrounds of 30,000 medical school applicants has shown that people from the lowest income groups are the least likely to apply for medical school. Just 3% of successful applicants come from the lowest income decile. By contrast, over 80% of those receiving offers of a place come from wealthy homes, with parents in the highest socio-economic group.
Aston has already been encouraging people from less advantaged, minority and non-medical backgrounds to pursue a career in medicine through the pioneering Sir Doug Ellis Pathways to Healthcare Programme. Launched in November 2016, the programme has seen 225 16-18 year-olds from Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull gain practical, hands-on experience in the NHS, support to apply to study Medicine, and academic support to prepare them for life at medical school.
Aston University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alec Cameron said:
“The Government’s decision to award Aston Medical School funding for 100 places is a vote of confidence in our plan to create the most socially inclusive medical school in the UK. We believe that future doctors should be drawn from a diverse and inclusive cohort of students with high ability and potential. At Aston bright individuals learn the skills to get ahead no matter what their family background might be, and our medical school is no exception.”
Executive Dean of Aston Medical School, Professor Asif Ahmed, said:
“The opening of Aston Medical School to our first cohort of students from this September is so important for Birmingham and the wider region. It will allow us to nurture the talent on our doorstep and, by focusing on specialisms including general practice, psychiatry and mental health, help to address the specialism gaps and health inequalities faced by too many residents in our great city and its neighbouring areas.
In October 2016, the Government announced its commitment to expanding undergraduate medical training by 1,500 places, with effect from September 2018 onward. 500 of these additional places were allocated to existing medical schools in 2017, for entry in 2018-19.
In summer 2017, after a consultation on the allocation of the remaining 1,000 places, the Department of Health and Social Care asked HEFCE and Health Education England (HEE) to seek bids through a competitive process, informed by the consultation responses, which opened in October 2017. The final allocation was approved by the Boards of HEFCE and HEE in March 2018.