medical schools council


Understanding medical school application numbers


Today, UCAS has published its statistical release of the 2024 undergraduate cycle, detailing applicant numbers for courses with an October deadline, including medicine. The key findings from these data are summarised below.

Applications to medicine have fallen but remain above pre-pandemic levels

It is important to note that medicine remains a highly competitive and oversubscribed subject, and despite this drop there is no shortage of quality applicants to fill places, and no risk to the number of doctors medical schools are tasked to graduate. Application numbers remain above pre-pandemic levels.

Medicine experienced an application boost during the pandemic, the reasons for this vary but include changes to assessment practice and greater exposure to the role and importance of healthcare workers. It is therefore not unexpected that current environmental factors continue to influence application decisions. However, there is still a strong demand to study medicine.

There is an increase in the number of applications to new medical schools

New medical schools are often in areas that are relatively ‘under-doctored’ and their growth is not only a positive sign for the development of future new medical schools, but an opportunity to improve the local healthcare workforce needs.

The number of UK 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas is at a record high

This statistic refers to all October deadline applications however it is a trend that medical schools are also seeing. Over the last decade, medical schools, with support from education partners and funders, have been actively working to widen access to medicine. Measures include outreach with schools, the development of gateway programmes and other alternative routes and the use of contextual admissions. Through the MSC Selection Alliance, medical schools regularly publish an update on their work in selection and widening participation.

Meeting the ambitions of the Long Term Workforce Plan (LTWP)

Medical schools welcome expansion (a full statement on the plan is available) and are working closely together to ensure the ambitions in the LTWP can be met. However it is imperative that alongside these increases, we are working to address the pressures faced by the health service to ensure students can achieve long-term productive careers in the NHS.


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