Cap placed on medicine places in UK universities should be lifted, universities suggests

Universities UK has urged the UK government to lift the cap on medicine places available for students after its U-turn on A-levels grading.

The UK government, on Monday, overturned a controversial marks awarding system that used algorithms to grade students. They indicated that the results suggested by teachers earlier will stand. This is after weeks of protests by students who had been affected by the Ofqual examination body’s reduction of grades.

The impact of this decision means that more UK students will have a higher rate of going to their first-choice schools than earlier anticipated. Universities groups, realizing this problem, have started planning ahead on how the next students will unfold.

Medicine places in the UK capped

The number of students who can study medicine in the UK is regulated by the government because of the cost of education and the prior planning of the workforce by the NHS. However, with the A-levels U-turn, the number of students who qualify to take medicine will be larger than expected.

A body representing universities that take in medical students has called for cap placed on medicine places in universities to be lifted. This came after the government increased the cap for admission for other disciplines, to address the surge in students who have qualified for universities.

The government has also been speaking and showing a willingness to remove the cap on university medicine places. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has already gone on record to state that they were considering lifting the cap on medicine places in the universities by declaring that his department was ‘absolutely looking at the idea.’

Universities UK, the group behind the push for the lifting of the students’ admission cap, wrote to the Education secretary, Gavin Williamson inquiring if his department was in communication with the Department for Health on plans to increase the medicine places in medical schools. The body, which represents more than 137 UK institutions, also asked for clarification on how the department would handle the surge in student numbers, considering the current social distancing rules.

The body also highlighted the challenges it anticipated such as a drop in course take-up for universities that required lower grades. This will mean that these universities will have problems attracting students for the new academic year, and might end up requiring financial support from the government.


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