Medical schools each engage in a significant amount of work to widen participation to medicine. However, there was not historically a great deal of cooperation between medical schools in how this work was approached. A 2012 report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission highlighted that medicine had fallen behind other subjects in ensuring fair access.
Medicine is a demanding subject and its application process is competitive. As a result, entry criteria are high and selection is stringent. While this can be a good indicator of whether an applicant will make an excellent doctor, it can fail to take into account the barriers which certain groups face. When selection processes are restricting candidates who would make excellent doctors, the processes need to be examined.
To address this, the Medical Schools Council launched the Selecting for Excellence project in 2013. Its role was to look at selection to medicine across the UK, with a particular focus on widening participation. Its aim was to provide a body of evidence which medical schools can use to ensure that they are selecting candidates who will make excellent doctors – no matter their backgrounds.
The project’s progress was monitored by a group made of representatives from key organisations in the health and higher education sectors.
Drawing on this high-level input, the experience of medical schools and specially commissioned research, the Selecting for Excellence Final Report was launched in December 2014. It included recommendations for medical schools, government bodies and the regulator. Released simultaneously were various guidance for medical schools and potential applicants, and the pieces of research which informed the report.
Its most important recommendation was for the Medical Schools Council to establish a group made of experts in selection who would lead nationally on all matters relating to medical admissions. This group was formed from the heads of selection at each medical school and named the Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance.
Through the Selection Alliance, the work started by the Selection for Excellence project continues and medical schools can remain united in their approach to seeking the best candidates. The Oversight Group now monitors the progress of the Selection Alliance.
Organisations represented on the Oversight Group
- BMA Medical Students Committee
- Department for Education
- Department of Health
- General Medical Council
- Health Education England
- Higher Education Funding Council England
- Medical Schools Council
- NHS Employers
- Office for Fair Access
- Social Mobility Foundation
- The Brightside Trust
- Selection Alliance 2019 Report
- Selection Alliance 2018 Report
- Selection Alliance 2017 Report
- Implementing Selecting for Excellence: A progress update (2016)
- Selecting for Excellence - Final report
- A journey to medicine: Outreach guidance
- A journey to medicine: Student success guidance
- Work experience guidelines for applicants to medicine
- Statement on the core values and attributes needed to study medicine
- Terms of Reference
- Work experience: a deterrent for applicants to medicine from widening participation backgrounds? - Dr Gil Nichols et al
- Help and hindrance in widening participation: commissioned research report - Dr Paul Garrud
- How can greater consistency in selection between medical schools be encouraged? A mixed-methods programme of research that examines and develops the evidence base - Professor Jen Cleland et al