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Is medical school selection discriminatory?

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 24 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1097

New data should be used as a catalyst for change

  1. Kamran Abbasi, Assistant editor
  1. BMJ

    Papers p 1111 Education and debatep 1149

    Being white, female, an academic high achiever, and singleminded can have its drawbacks, but when it comes to selection for United Kingdom medical schools, no one's better placed. At least that's the message from the analysis by McManus of the anonymised data on selection released this week (p 1111).1 The key findings show, surprisingly, that women are more likely to gain entry to medical schools, but candidates from ethnic minorities remain disadvantaged. Concerns about the selection procedure have long inspired calls for a code of practice.2

    • Disadvantage—To deprive of the resources and privileges enjoyed by the majority of people

    • Discriminate—To treat differently because of prejudice Adapted from Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

    Differences exist between ethnic minority groups. Caribbeans are less disadvantaged than Africans. Indians are less disadvantaged than Bangladeshis or Pakistanis. While wide confidence intervals hint that some of these differences may not be real, it is undeniable—and suspicions are confirmed—that overall ethnic minorities are disadvantaged. Sceptics will argue that this analysis by McManus doesn't take into account data on predicted A level grades (which were not made available to him but which selectors rely on heavily), but previous work …

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