Learning In Practice

The standardised admission ratio for measuring widening participation in medical schools: analysis of UK medical school admissions by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sex

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7455.1545 (Published 24 June 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1545
  1. Kieran Seyan, final year medical student1,
  2. Trisha Greenhalgh, professor (p.greenhalgh@pcps.ucl.ac.uk)1,
  3. Danny Dorling, visiting professor in social medicine2
  1. 1Department of Primary Health Care, University College London, London N19 5LW
  2. 2University of Bristol, Bristol Danny Dorling
  1. Correspondence to: T Greenhalgh
  • Accepted 21 April 2004

Ethnic minorities and women are no longer under-represented in UK medical schools, but lower socioeconomic groups still are.1 Given the strong political pressure on higher education institutions to develop “widening participation” programmes,2 3 a valid quantitative index of the impact of such programmes is needed urgently. Such an index should be derived from robust and accessible primary data, reflect the impact of multiple independent variables in different population subgroups, allow comparisons across institutions and over time, and be readily understandable by non-statisticians.

Statistics on the entry profile of UK medical schools are usually expressed as the selection ratio (the proportion of admissions to applications4). We propose that the standardised admission ratio (see box), which expresses the number of pupils admitted to medical school as a proportion of the number who would do so if places were allocated equitably across all socioeconomic and ethnic groups and equally by sex, should become the standard measure of widening participation. It would not, of course, be an index of discrimination at selection stage. …

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