Widening Participation at Aston Medical School


In keeping with our vision of being a socially inclusive medical school, we aim to offer a minimum of 40% of our MBChB places each academic year to students who meet specified widening participation criteria.

Widening participation (WP) in higher education aims to address the imbalance in the take-up of higher education opportunities between different social and under-represented groups. It uses a number of measures such as where someone lives, a school/college they attend, whether parents have attended university and/or whether you have been in receipt of any means tested bursaries.

With places on medical courses being both limited in number and highly sought after the competition to secure places is very high.

Traditionally, studying medicine has been seen as an elite profession with multiple barriers to entry such as high grades, additional examinations, work experience requirements and multiple years of funding. A 2011 government report ‘Opening Doors and Breaking Barriers’ found that just 20% of schools in the UK provide 80% of all medical school applications.

These statistics have encouraged an ongoing effort from medical schools across the UK, The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Health Education England to address this imbalance. One outcome of this effort has been the 1500 new training places in UK medical schools that was announced in 2017. These places been allocated to medical schools, such as Aston, within areas with a relative shortage of doctors overall (or in certain specialties), and importantly to widen the social profile of new medical students.

The School aims to recruit at least 40 students from Widening Participation (WP) backgrounds, with the majority allocated to local students from the Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country areas, including those on the Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme. (Local is defined as you living or attending a school that falls within the following Local Authorities: Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton). The remaining places will be offered to UK-wide WP applicants.

To be considered for one of widening participation places you must be from a non-selective state school (a school that does not admit students on the basis of some sort of selection criteria, usually academic) and must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Has lived in or is currently living in Local Authority Care
  • Come from a home where neither parent has attended a university in the UK or abroad
  • Is currently in receipt of a means-tested bursary (i.e. the 16 – 19 bursary)  
  • Has been in receipt of free school meals at any point over the last 6 years (Ever 6)  
  • Lives in an eligible postcode area (where the neighbourhood has a low progression rate to HE). You can check this here under the Postcode Checker.
No you can be considered for a place even if you are not currently enrolled on the Pathway to Healthcare Programme

If you believe you would be eligible for one of our WP places on the MBChB programme, then please apply as normal through the UCAS webpages before the 15th October 2018 deadline. 

After the 15th October we will be contacting all Home students outlining how to complete an additional WP application form and who to have it signed off by. You will then have up until the Friday 9th November 2018 to send us back this application form, fully completed. 

Please note that incomplete or late forms will not be accepted.

We have a limited number of WP places for which we can make a contextual offer of ABB in your A Levels (to include biology or chemistry at Grade A and the other at Grade B), if you place us as your firm choice in response to your offer.