The Department for Education is set to stump up most of the cash for a scheme which will pay would-be medicine and dentistry students £10,000 to take up an alternative place if their chosen medical school is over-subscribed.
It is understood the government expects to shoulder £6,500 of the cost of each payout under a so-called “brokerage” scheme agreed with medical schools. More students than expected achieved the grades needed to take up their places.
Ministers had already announced last week that medical and dentistry schools would get additional cash to expand courses for the 2021-22 academic year following a 20 per cent boost in applications and in anticipation of today’s increase in top grades.
However, according to the Medical Schools Council, expansion of places is limited by the availability of clinical placement opportunities for students throughout their courses.
The MSC said this was why its members had agreed to support the brokerage programme “so that applicants who have met the conditions of their offers at oversubscribed medical schools will be given the opportunity to move to different medical schools”.
Students that choose to move medical and dentistry schools will receive a payment of £10,000 “for the inconvenience”, they said, and the method for distributing the funding will be confirmed “in due course”. It is not known whether there will be a cap on numbers eligible,
MSC co-chair Professor Malcolm Reed said: “Medical schools recognise the need to bolster the future NHS workforce and by supporting this brokerage programme have committed to ensuring that expansion considers the need to maintain high quality medical education and training for all future doctors.”
But former DfE adviser Sam Freedman warned the situation could be “unfair” for poorer students “who are more likely to need the £10k in the short term and get a less valuable degree as a result”.
The MSC said students with offers from eligible institutions would be approached directly and asked to apply if they wish, and that final numbers would be impacted by decisions from the General Medical Council and Health Education England.
How the scheme will work
The DfE has published a blog post on how the brokerage scheme will work.
Eligible students holding a firm offer at an oversubscribed university will receive an “incentivised transfer scheme” letter.
Places will only be available until August 17 at 8.30am, but the DfE said places “may go quickly”, and it encourages students to “engage early” if they are interested.
Students sent letters are also not guaranteed a space on the scheme, because capacity is “limited”, and “not all applications will be successful”. The DfE has not said how many students will receive the money overall.
Priority order will be “determined by those the receiving provider approves first”, but the DfE said this “does not necessarily mean those students first to register”.
“But we do recommend that students act quickly, after getting suitable advice,” they added.
Overseas students are not eligible for the money, but those living in Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland who have firm offers at over-subscribed English medical medical and dentistry schools will be.
Not all universities are able to accept students on transfer, so lists of available places will be provided to eligible students for their “consideration”, the DfE said.
Those waiting for appeals against exam grades are also not eligible, and should speak to the institution they were holding a place with.
Students will receive the money at the beginning of term, once they have registered at their new university.