medical schools council


Medical school widening participation work boosted by powerful data tool


A report published today details the work of the Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance in widening participation over 2017.

This is a continuation of the work initiated through the Selecting for Excellence project, which in 2014 issued recommendations for medical schools and the Medical Schools Council. The Selection Alliance, which is made up of the heads of admissions from UK medical schools, leads on meeting these recommendations.

A key recommendation was to improve the collection of data on the socio-economic profile of medical students and applicants, including characteristics such as ethnicity, gender and educational background. This has now been achieved using the wide array of data brought together by the UK Medical Education Database, or UKMED.

UKMED is run jointly by the Medical Schools Council and General Medical Council, and in compiling the data section of the new report extensive use was made of the Higher Education Statistics Authority data within UKMED.

From this year onwards, the Selection Alliance will be using UKMED to build on these data and produce a clearer picture than ever before of the barriers faced by applicants in applying to medicine, as well as on their progress in medical school and after qualification.

Dr Paul Garrud, chair of the MSC Selection Alliance, said:

‘We have long known that selection processes must be based on solid evidence. The widening participation work of medical schools has always used information available locally, but the scale and quality of data now available to us is a major step in the right direction.

‘In September we saw Ben Kumwenda et al (2017) use UKMED data to reveal that students from state schools were around twice as likely to graduate in the top 10% of their class than students from independent schools.1 Insights like this help build the case for widening participation as a means of expanding medical student numbers and ensuring the continued high quality of medical graduates.

‘Now that UKMED data are being used for year-on-year analyses by the Selection Alliance, we may see trends which can help us create selection policy which is more impactful than anything previously seen.’ 

The survey can be accessed here 

The survey can be accessed online here: Selection Alliance 2017 Report: An update on the Medical Schools Council’s work in selection and widening participation


Notes to editors:

  1. Ben Kumwenda et al, ‘The relationship between school type and academic performance at medical school: a national, multi-cohort study’, BMJ Open, 2017
  2. The report released today is a progress report on the Medical Schools Council’s work to carry out the recommendations of the Selecting for Excellence Final Report (2014). To learn more about Selecting for Excellence, visit
  3. UKMED is a partnership between data providers from across the education and health sectors. By linking these data, it is possible to create a large-scale, long-term body of information in the form of a secure, deidentified database. Researchers make proposals to gain access to specific data from the database, with all proposals subject to a formal evaluation procedure based on a set of published criteria. As a stakeholder, Medical Schools Council is able to access data for the purpose of widening participation work. For more information on UKMED, see
  4. The Medical Schools Council represents the interests and ambitions of UK medical schools as they relate to the generation of national health, wealth and knowledge through biomedical research and the profession of medicine. For further information about the work of the Medical Schools Council please see
  5. For more information about this press release please contact Edward Knight, Senior Communications Officer, on 020 7419 5427 or
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