Medical school applications—a critical situation

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7368.786 (Published 12 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:786

The supply of medical students may not meet the demands of medical school expansion in the United Kingdom

  1. I C McManus, professor of psychology and medical education (i.mcmanus@ucl.ac.uk)
  1. Department of Psychology, University College London, London WC1E 6BT

    Medical schools need well qualified, well motivated medical students. Admissions tutors, their desks piled high with applications, usually worry little about a dearth of applicants. Nevertheless, because each applicant applies to four schools, the surfeit is largely illusory. The statistics of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (http://www.ucas.ac.uk/) show that, whereas 9192 “home” (United Kingdom) entrants applied to medical school in October 1995, five years later this number had dropped by 12%, to 8108. Medical schools expanded, and in 2000 the number of home entrants was 5229 compared with 4361 in 1995, a rise of 20%. The most important statistic underlying selection is the selection ratio1—the number of applicants for each place at medical school—and it fell from 2.11 in 1995 to 1.55 in 2000.

    The falling selection ratio inevitably concerned the Department of Health. Medical education in the United Kingdom is currently expanding. Five new medical schools will have opened by 2005, and 6873 home entrants will start medical school in the United Kingdom,2 a 31% increase over 2000 and a 58% increase over 1995. The worry …

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