Medical schools help tackle 'class ceiling' on professional careers

Posted by ap507 at Jan 17, 2017 10:18 AM |
‘Universities are beginning to realise they must be more proactive and innovative in their approach to medical school admissions’ - Professor Philip Baker, Dean of Medicine, University of Leicester

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 17 January 2017

Medical schools can help more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds break through a “class ceiling” to the professions highlighted in a new report, a medical school head has said.

More needs to be done to help thousands of underprivileged students who face a “lost opportunity” because they cannot access top jobs in professional areas including law, finance, medicine, journalism and politics, the report on an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility says.

The report, ‘The “class ceiling”: Increasing access to the leading professions’, calls for universities to take prospective students’ backgrounds into account in medical school admissions, and build on innovative medical foundation year schemes that aim to widen access to courses dominated by privately educated and wealthier students.

“As the report notes, universities are beginning to realise they must be more proactive and innovative in their approach to medical school admissions if they are to recruit talented students from a wider social spectrum,” said Professor Philip Baker, Dean of Medicine and Head of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology at the University of Leicester.

Leicester’s Medical School is offering scholarships worth £9,000 to students joining a new Foundation Year in September that is designed to attract more students from state schools and lower socio-economic groups.

Students who pass the Foundation course and either choose to continue studying medicine or another related course will qualify for a further £2,000 a year scholarship funding for the rest of their degree. It means those that complete the Foundation Year and a medical degree could receive scholarships worth up to a total of £19,000.

The Foundation Year and scholarships are being backed by a charitable trust, which has donated £2 million towards the cost.

The scheme answers two other calls from the APPG report -- for school pupils to be encouraged to take an interest in medicine earlier on in their academic lives, and for more to be done to help graduates find employment in regions outside of London.

The University has strong relationships with schools and colleges across the East Midlands and is already working with them and within its Outreach and Widening Participation Programmes to identify the most promising applicants. They will be offered the opportunity to join the University of Leicester ‘MedReach’ e-mentoring programme, a two year programme which links A-level students with current Medical undergraduates. The University is also launching a new MedLEAP programme, designed to engage and support talented Year 12 students whose personal circumstances may have affected their ability to reach their full academic potential.

Professor Baker said: “Training local young people who research suggests will more likely stay and practice in the area will help support our depleting General Practitioner numbers in Leicester and Leicestershire. The associated teaching opportunities the Foundation Year Programme presents will both attract and retain GPs and high calibre academic clinicians to the city and county, many of whom will bring expertise in areas we are currently lacking.”

Welcoming the report, Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “Leicester is committed to widening access to higher education and providing opportunities for talented young people who might otherwise not consider medicine as a career. In time we also expect that the Leicester programme will provide a boost to local healthcare provision.”

Although it is encouraged by the Medical Council, very few UK Medical Schools offer a Medical Foundation Year with Widening Participation at its heart. Currently 80% of all medical students in the UK stem from just 20% of schools, and of the 11,125 students who entered medicine and dentistry in 2011 just 4.1 per cent were from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. In particular, addressing the lack of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds entering the medical profession is a key national priority.

Notes to Editors

Leicester Medical School is based in the University’s Centre for Medicine, the largest investment in medical teaching and applied research by a UK university in the last decade.

Acting as a hub to bring together, for the first time, the University’s leading academics, researchers, clinicians and students; currently spread across multiple sites in the city, the new Centre will completely transform medical teaching and improve the lives of many patients in the region and beyond.

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