The Selection Alliance is responsible for the development and implementation of the Medical Schools Council’s selection work. Formed in 2015, its chief role is to carry out the recommendations of the Selecting for Excellence Final Report which relate to medical schools. Drawing on the expertise of medical school admissions leads from across the UK, the Selection Alliance focuses on the following areas:
Medical schools use various ways of selecting their students, including admissions tests, assessment centres, panel interviews and ‘multiple-mini interviews’. The value of a selection method is in its ability to predict the suitability of a candidate for medicine. The Selection Alliance offers a means for medical schools to come together to compare methods and offer best practice.
It also establishes working groups and commissions research to learn more about particular methods. For example, an expert group is now working to optimise the way in which multiple-mini interviews are used. Elsewhere, research is underway into the impact that different weightings (the relative ‘importance’ placed on various aspects of an application) has on candidates from a widening participation background.
Central to the formation of the Selection Alliance is its role in widening participation to the medical degree. Historically, various groups have been under-represented in medicine as a university subject and in turn as a profession.
There are different measures for representation, such as gender and ethnicity. Women now make up slightly more than half of both applicants and graduates from the medical degree, but a measure like ethnicity is more complex. Some groups are represented among medical students in proportion to their size in the UK population, while other groups are over or underrepresented.
The principal measure considered in the Selection Alliance’s widening participation work is socio-economic background. This is because significant disparities have been found in engagement with the medical degree between different socio-economic groups. Many other measures can be related to socio-economic grouping, so it is reasonable that work revolves around this.
Definitions of widening participation and widening access
The Selection Alliance definition of widening access:
‘The purpose of widening access initiatives is to raise aspirations and inspire students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine to make an informed choice to study at medical school. The aim is to recruit these students so that future generations of medical students, and therefore doctors, more closely mirror the population that they serve.’
The Selection Alliance definition of widening participation:
‘Widening participation aims to ensure there is equality of access to the medical profession. This means that medical schools must have processes in place to support the recruitment, progression and retention of medical students from under represented backgrounds. This includes students with protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act (and equivalent legislation across the UK) as well as those from a lower socio-economic background.’
Providing better information for participants
Entry requirements for medical schools are high, but they can vary subtly and information regarding widening participation is not always easy to find. This information is spread across more than thirty websites. Applicants with good careers guidance will therefore have an advantage in understanding the information over those who do not.
To address this, the Medical Schools Council now collects the information directly from medical schools. This information is updated for applicants on the MSC website and can be found on our Entry requirements comparison tool. A PDF version is also available: Entry requirements for UK medical schools. It is updated yearly. This has also been a way of offering formalised categories for the types of medical degrees.
Applicant and entrant reports
The medical schools’ applicant end entrant profile reports have been created to provide easy access to a reliable data set of applicant and entrants’ demographic characteristics. These data can be viewed by course, year, and medical school as well as collectively. This resource enables accurate tracking of widening participation and inclusivity within medicine, in response to the recommendations set out in the 2014 Selecting for Excellence Final report.
The Selection Alliance consists of a Reference Group which meets twice yearly and is attended by two deans of admissions from each Medical Schools Council member. Elected from the Reference Group is a Board which sets the strategic aims for the Selection Alliance. Board members are as follows:
- Dr Paul Garrud (Chair), University of Nottingham
- Darren Beaney, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
- Dr Julian Burton, University of Sheffield
- Dr Sally Curtis, University of Southampton
- Dr Gordon Dent, Keele University
- Ms Angela Kubacki, St George's University of London
- Dr Paul Lambe, Plymouth University
- Dr Gail Nicholls, University of Leeds
- Dr Heidi Phillips, Swansea University
- Dr Nana Sartania, University of Glasgow
Providing ongoing monitoring of the Selection Alliance is the Oversight Group, which was established during the Selecting for Excellence project and remains to ensure that the recommendations of the Final Report are being carried out.