A-levels U-turn: Medical schools call for increase in student places

A-levels U-turn: Medical schools call for increase in student places

A-levels U-turn: Medical faculties name for improve in pupil locations

Students protest over the awarding of A-levelsPicture copyright
PA Media

Ministers are coming below stress to carry the restrict on the variety of locations to review drugs in England, after this week’s adjustments to A-level outcomes.

The variety of college students learning to be docs is regulated due to the fee and for NHS workforce planning.

However universities worry that with out the cap on locations relaxed and monetary assist, they can’t accommodate all the scholars with the grades to get in.

Well being Secretary Matt Hancock stated he was “completely taking a look at this situation”.

That is the most recent situation thrown up by the federal government’s determination on Monday to alter how examination grades are awarded, following heavy criticism from college students, academics and a few Tory MPs.

The transfer to offer A-level and GCSE college students grades estimated by their academics, quite than by an algorithm, means 1000’s of A-level college students might now have the grades to commerce as much as their first-choice college provides.

In a letter to Training Secretary Gavin Williamson, seen by the BBC, Universities UK sought “pressing assurances” that he was talking to the Division for Well being about rising the medical pupil cap.

Though the cap on general pupil numbers has been raised, locations at medical faculties stay restricted as a result of the prices of coaching docs far exceeds the charges paid by undergraduates.

The letter went on to say: “The function of universities in coaching the medical workforce is important for all areas and nations of the UK, as clearly proven by our members’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

It additionally referred to as extra extensively for “vital monetary assist” from the federal government as college students are anticipated to alter programs after being awarded increased grades.

The physique, which represents 137 establishments throughout the UK, stated that whereas the change to the grading technique was the fitting determination, it might result in grade inflation that means universities with decrease entry necessities would face a drop in course take-up and in consequence require monetary assist.

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Media captionGavin Williamson says his focus is on “ensuring that each pupil will get the grades that they deserve”

The letter additionally requested for readability on how elevated pupil numbers might be managed alongside social distancing measures and steering on methods to deal with the next variety of candidates with the required grades than obtainable locations.

Prof Jenny Higham, principal of medical faculty St George’s, College of London, advised the BBC’s Newsnight: “Drugs is each a really sensible self-discipline and likewise requires quite a lot of scientific and sensible expertise and therefore scientific placement capability additionally must be elevated.”

The pandemic has meant the present college students have been unable to hold out their scientific research that means there’s a backlog in locations, she stated.

Prof Higham added it was a excessive price topic with programs funded by supplementary funds from the federal government in addition to tuition charges, and the necessity to pay for scientific placements.

Requested whether or not he would think about lifting the cap on medical college students, Mr Hancock advised BBC Breakfast: “We’re taking a look at that.

“Fortunately we have got an growth within the variety of medical locations this yr, the most important variety of medical locations ever as a result of we’re hiring into the NHS, we’re rising the NHS and we wish to make sure that the NHS has the docs it wants sooner or later,” he added.

“However I’m completely taking a look at this situation, sure.”

Conservative MP Sir John Redwood advised Newsnight any adjustments additionally wanted to be honest to the category of 2021 in addition to “make as much as the category of 2020”, with subsequent yr’s cohort needing to be assured of locations in the event that they received the required grades.

On Tuesday, universities minister Michelle Donelan stated she needed to make sure any college students who had accepted a “totally different course” than deliberate, on account of being downgraded final week, ought to have the ability to “change their thoughts and to reverse that call”.

She stated No 10 was working with universities to assist “increase the capability obtainable” with the intention to “minimise the quantity of scholars that will probably be seeking to defer.”

Ministers in England, Northern Eire and Wales all selected Monday – 4 days after A-level outcomes have been issued – to revert to trainer assessed grades quite than the algorithm. Scotland reverted to trainer assessed grades on 4 August after dealing with an identical backlash.

The transfer prompted a scramble for college locations as college students tried to reclaim locations at universities which they’d final week been rejected from.

Nonetheless, the highest universities warned that college students who now have increased grades might nonetheless be requested to defer if there isn’t a house left on their chosen course.

The chaos and uncertainty has led to calls from faculty and faculty leaders for an pressing assessment.

The schooling secretary apologised for the misery brought on by the U-turn.

“This diploma of transparency is important at a time when public confidence has been badly shaken,” stated Geoff Barton, common secretary of the Affiliation of Faculty and School Leaders union.

Mr Barton additionally referred to as on No 10 and Ofqual to place in place a “sturdy contingency plan” for college kids sitting GCSEs and A-levels subsequent summer time within the occasion of additional coronavirus-related disruption.

In the meantime, pupils will get their GCSE outcomes on Thursday as deliberate, the Joint Council for {Qualifications} (JCQ) stated.

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