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My son has been offered a place to study medicine at Cambridge and at University College London. Which should he choose and where are the best opportunities for postgraduate training?

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7456.s2-c (Published 03 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s2
  1. Brian Angus, clinical tutor and honorary consultant
  1. University of Oxford

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I suppose that really depends on what your son wants from medical school. The courses are different, with Cambridge still running a preclinical course. You then need to reapply for the Oxbridge clinical courses (about half of the Oxford clinical students are from Cambridge), but some people go to Cambridge and then on to University College London for their clinical course. Cambridge is smaller and it has a more intense tutorial system with a higher staff to student ratio, but University College London has a wide range of different clinical specialties.

As far as postgraduate training is concerned, the situation is in a state of flux. It is unclear how foundation posts will be run and also how much difference it will make where you went to medical school. Again, Oxbridge is smaller and therefore you will probably have more personal input from tutors, but University College London has a wider range. We know that more students go into hospital specialties from Oxbridge than elsewhere.

Of course, there is also the social pressure, and if your son has friends applying to University College London or Cambridge then that may be the most important difference. It is crucial to settle quickly when going to medical school.

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