Education & Family

UK students excluded from UK medicine degree

Medical student Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The five-year course for student doctors will cost £36,500 in tuition fees per year

A medicine degree course at a UK university is not open to students from the UK - only overseas students are allowed to apply.

The medicine course at the University of Central Lancashire, launching this autumn, costs £36,500 per year.

The university says it is unable to admit UK students due to government limits on places to study medicine.

Careers charity MyBigCareer says this does "absolutely nothing" for young people wanting a career in medicine.

Ucas, the universities admissions service, and Universities UK say they do not know of any other UK undergraduate courses not admitting UK students.

The five-year course at the Preston-based university, training students to be doctors, is only available to overseas students, who will pay total tuition fees of £182,500.

There are 38 overseas students in this initial intake, who will have to pay the fees without any of the financial support or loans available to UK students.

Disadvantaged applicants

The training will work in partnership with local NHS hospitals, but students from the UK, or elsewhere in the European Union, are not allowed to apply.

A spokesman for the university said it would like to be able to admit UK students but was prevented from doing so by a limit on the number of places for UK students to study medicine.

Student number controls were lifted from most university courses, but have been kept for medicine. This restriction reflects that places for medicine, part-funded by the NHS, cost much more than the £9,000 upper limit for fees in England.

Deborah Streatfield, founder of careers and social mobility charity MyBigCareer, warned that a course which did not admit UK students closed the door to youngsters wanting to get into a medical career.

"This course is linked to NHS providers and yet attracts students who can self-fund £182,500 in tuition fees over five years," she said.

"This does absolutely nothing to help young students from disadvantaged backgrounds who struggle to access medical courses and then face five years of fees and tuition loans. These students would love to work and give back to the NHS if given a chance."

Cathy Jackson, head of the university medical school, said: "We are very much not an elitist organisation and we are working with our partner trusts to improve the health economy in many ways in all the regions in which we are working.

"These international students self-fund their course in the same way as international students do at every other medical school in the UK. Unlike the other schools however, we don't yet have any home students," said Prof Jackson.

She said that if there was an increase in the number of UK students for medicine degrees, "we will certainly be making a bid for those increased numbers".

"We would like to take home students and are actively looking at ways to make this possible, even without such an increase."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We fund student places for doctors based on the numbers the NHS tells us it will need in the future to ensure we get value for money for the taxpayer and we are committed to deliver an estimated 5,000 more doctors in general practice by 2020."

Earlier this month, there was criticism of work experience placements in a private hospital being sold for £500 per week, which would help students to improve their applications to study medicine at university.

There have been particular concerns about the lack of fair access to medicine courses, with warnings that medical schools are failing to recruit students from a wide enough range of backgrounds.

Research from the Medical Schools Council in December showed that half of UK secondary schools and colleges had not provided a single applicant to medicine in recent years.

More on this story