New scheme launches to widen access to medical careers

Aston Medical School

21 October 2016

  • ·Year 12 pupils from disadvantaged areas get chance of medical  career
  • ·Two-year programme aims to ‘level the playing field’
  • ·Aston ‘inspiring young people to aspire’ 

Young people from some of the most disadvantaged areas of the region are being given the chance of a future career in medicine, thanks to an innovative learning and development programme launching next month.

The Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme launches Saturday, 5 November and will see 16 and 17-year-olds from Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country benefit from experiences including medical taster days, workshops and research projects as well as work placements in local hospitals and GP practices.

Over the two-year programme they will also receive guidance and support to help them though the university application process and interviews plus an intensive A Level revision “boot camp” concentrating on one of their subjects.

At the end of the programme, students meeting the admissions criteria will be able to apply for a subsidised place at the new Aston Medical School, or could opt for another healthcare degree course in a wide range of subjects such as pharmacy, optometry, audiology and biomedical sciences. They would also be supported in applying to other medical schools.

Professor Asif Ahmed, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health at Aston University and Executive Dean of Aston Medical School, said: “I am hugely excited at the prospect of delivering a medical school that inspires young people in local schools and colleges with the highest index of deprivation to aspire to greater heights.

“This innovative programme will feed students living in less advantaged circumstances to not only Aston Medical School but also to other local medical schools in the Midlands. I see this as in keeping with the vision the Prime Minister articulated outside 10 Downing Street in her first speech to the nation. 

“I hope it will encourage our locally qualified doctors and scientists to find jobs in local hospitals, GP practices and other healthcare settings. This, in turn, will increase the number of qualified healthcare professionals in the West Midlands working to redress the many health challenges of the area.”

Sir Doug Ellis, who is sponsoring the initial three years of the programme, said: “I want to ‘level the playing field’ for access into medical education. Those students from the local community with a passion and ability to study medicine should be fostered and supported – irrespective of their background.

“Aston Medical School is an exciting model for medical education and will have a meaningful and lasting impact on Birmingham and the health of its population.”

Only students successfully completing the Pathway to Healthcare Programme can apply for one of the 20 UK places available at Aston Medical School. No other student in the UK will be eligible. On acceptance, students will spend five years studying for the MBChB undergraduate degree in medicine.

Year 12 pupils applying to join the Pathway to Healthcare Programme must meet at least one of the following criteria: be in receipt of a means-tested bursary (eg 16-19 Bursary); be eligible, or have been, for free school meals during secondary education (Ever 6); be from a local authority care background; be from a family where neither parent has attended university.

They must also have attained B grades, or above, in five GCSE subjects including mathematics, English language, chemistry, biology or double science.

If you are interested in joining the programme, or you know someone who might be, contact Amanda Bishop, Widening Participation & Admissions Manager for Aston Medical School on 0121 204 3025 or [email protected]   The closing date for applications for the 2016/17 programme is 26 October, 2016.  More information and an application form can be found at

Students accepted on to the programme will attend a launch event with their families on 5 November. The event, on the university campus, will include presentations and information sessions for students and their parents or carers.


Notes to the editor

Aston Medical School

The new Aston Medical School is scheduled to open its doors to its first medical undergraduate students in the autumn of 2018. In addition to 20 places for local* students from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds, the School will accept up to 80 international* medical students each year.

All new medical schools in the UK have to be accredited by the General Medical Council (GMC) before they can open to undergraduates. In 2016 the GMC introduced a new, more stringent and lengthier accreditation programme and schools must achieve all five stages before approval will be given by the GMC’s board. Aston Medical School is the first to apply for accreditation under the revised scheme.

Work to build a purpose-designed medical school at the heart of the Aston University campus is due to commence in 2017 at a cost of £15 million.

*subject to change

Sir Doug Ellis

Sir Doug Ellis is deeply committed to Birmingham and to Aston University and is one of the city’s leading philanthropists. He assisted the university to undertake the refurbishment of the Sir Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre which benefits students and staff and the local community. He is recognised as the pioneer of the package holiday industry and his other business activities have included electronics, insurance, farming and retailing. He was Chairman of Aston Villa Football Club for 35 years and is now the club's Honorary Life President. Sir Doug was awarded the OBE for services to football and the community in 2004 and received an Honorary Degree from Aston in 2007.


Saturday 5 November: 10.45am

Main building, Aston University, Birmingham, B4 7ET

Young people accepted on to the Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme will be attending the programme’s launch.

There will be opportunity for the media to photograph Aston University’s Vice Chancellor Alec Cameron and Dr Nick Harding, Honorary Professor of Community Cardiology & Primary Care Leadership, launching the programme as well as some of the young people and their parents or carers.  

Photographs will be available to the media post-event – contact the press office.

For media queries or to arrange interviews, etc: contact:  Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4978 or [email protected] 

More information about the programme, eligibility, how to apply, etc is here.