Session Two: Access into health and medicine

This was second session of the Social Mobility APPG’s Inquiry into Access into Leading Professions, looking at how we can improve the chances of disadvantaged young people getting into the top professions.

This session investigated why one of the most prestigious and respected state funded professions (at least predominantly) is recruiting such a disproportionate number of people educated in the independent sector.

It was an absorbing session, discussing the fascinating initiatives that being adopted to widen access into medical careers as well as digging deeper into the challenges that persons from disadvantaged backgrounds face to get in. The session also exposed the next phase of the widening access issue – professional development, which might be even more complicated to tackle.

Crucially, what we identified in this session that was very telling for our wider inquiry was that similar solutions to widening access were proposed for medicine as they had been in the fields of law, accountancy and finance:

  • contextualising admissions;
  • the importance of high quality careers advice in schools;
  • encouraging school-recruiter (in this case the medical school) collaboration;
  • the significance of work experience (particularly to mitigate networking effects);
  • a need for greater and more consistent data transparency (for understanding and accountability).

The other issue that came up frequently was that the recording of the high UCAS entry points tariff for medical school on university league tables is driving up entry requirements and creating a huge barrier to access, although there was recognition that league tables are difficult to control because there’s no central arbiter.

A full summary may be found by clicking here, along with data from the Medical Schools Council underlying the widening participation challenges that medicine faces.