Changes in university funding for medical education in England

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c5781 (Published 18 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5781
  1. Ed Peile, professorial fellow
  1. 1Academy of Medical Educators, London W1U 2EZ, UK
  1. ed.peile{at}warwick.ac.uk

Students from all backgrounds will be able to pay for quality education when they earn medical salaries

Opportunity costs money, and nobody likes paying. Amidst the alarm, considerable positivity greeted the report Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education.1 This is no mean achievement for the committee led by Lord Browne of Madingley. Principled and rationally argued, the report manages to avoid boxing politicians into corners on the sensitive issue of funding a competitive university industry, which is regarded as essential to future national prosperity. Few people would argue with the assertions that higher education is currently in crisis, and that current funding arrangements are not sustainable.

In the United Kingdom, students, their families, and the state all contribute to funding university education. This would continue under the Browne proposals, but the onus would change. With public finances under unprecedented pressure, the challenge is to match or exceed the investment of other countries in their university systems.

Browne cites global reports showing that the UK is at a competitive disadvantage because of its “inadequately trained workforce”2—in 2010 it was ranked 55th out of 139 countries on the quality of its maths and science education.3 Medicine is recognised as being important to the wellbeing of our society and to our economy, and the committee acknowledges the risk that if the charges to students for clinical courses reflected the …

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