Updated: Sep 9, 2021
According to the Medical School Council’s Selection Alliance 2018 report, over the last 10 years, approximately 7000 medical students are admitted to medical schools each year with an average of 16,000 students in the country applying for a place. This is approximately 2-3 students to every place. In recent years, the quota for medical students has risen due to more places being available to meet the greater demand for UK doctors – which means there's now about a 50% chance of you gaining a place at medical school!
A greater proportion of entrants to medicine are from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds compared to applicants and entrants to higher education generally, however this masks the chronic underrepresentation of some specific ethnic groups such as Black Caribbean medical students. Females also make up a greater percentage than males at medical school.
Entrants to higher education and to medicine from the lower socioeconomic background classifications have remained static since 2007. There are 50% fewer entrants to medicine from lower socioeconomic backgrounds than entrants to higher education in general. Entrants to medicine from the most deprived areas of the country have only shown a 5% increase in the last 10 years. A smaller proportion of students gain a place at medical school if they have nobody else in their family who has a higher education degree and if they attended a state-funded school.
Outreach programmes help to address these sorts of barriers that are preventing bright students from gaining a place at medical school. These programmes give students, who would not otherwise be able to, gain an insight into medical school, what is expected of them in their applications, the interview process and get advice from current medical students and admissions tutors.
Outreach programmes and summer schools have specific application criteria and usually target secondary or Sixth Form students currently attending school (unfortunate for those of you on gap years). During my application to Medicine the first-time round I had attended:
St. George’s Taste of Medicine 2-day programme – Year 9
UCL Horizons Year 10 Summer School – Year 10
Explore UCL Year 11 Summer School – Year 11
UCL Year 12 Biosciences Masterclass – Year 12
UCL Year 12 Applied Medical Sciences Masterclass – Year 12
These are some outreach programmes for London universities. They are all included in the Opportunities section of the Aspiring Medics resource bank.
Target Medicine: BECOME - a one-day event for Year 9 and 10 students of African-Caribbean descent or Mixed Black backgrounds to explore what it might be like going to university and studying medicine.
Year 12 and 13 masterclasses (in a range of subjects)
Envision@UCL - a 3-hour online event for young people of Black African & Caribbean heritage in years 10-13 and who are interested in learning more about university and future career options.
The best thing to do is google the university name + ‘medicine outreach’ or ‘medicine widening participation’. This will bring up their official webpages and what they have to offer.
Furthermore, it is worth having a look at the social media platforms of the university’s student societies to see if they are running any outreach schemes. These could be medical (e.g. Surgical Society, Cardiology society) or specifically designed for outreach and increasing representation (e.g. African Caribbean Medical Society). Although these are usually done in schools in the local area, some societies put on events designed to help with the medical school application process and interview practice. I have been on lots of societies such as these that do this! Enable notifications on Eventbrite and keep up to date with their social medias as these events are usually free so are booked up in minutes!
Further resources on university statistics: