Aston Medical School welcomes government plan

Aston Medical School
Widening access to medical education is at the heart of Aston Medical School

10  August  2017 

  • Widening participation and access are top priorities for Department of Health
  • Aston Medical School already working to raise aspirations of year 12 students
  • Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme just completed first year

Aston Medical School welcomes the Government’s confirmation it is expanding undergraduate medical education to help ensure the medical workforce is more representative of the population it serves.

Aston Medical School opens its doors to its first cohort of medical students in September 2018. Among the intake will be young people from disadvantaged areas and circumstances across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country who, in addition to meeting the entry requirements, will have completed the two-year Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare widening participation programme.

Last month, the General Medical Council (GMC) gave Aston Medical School the go-ahead to recruit its first cohort of students to a five-year MBChB undergraduate degree in medicine. The GMC has a stringent quality assurance programme and its inspection team recently assessed the School’s proposed programme of study and facilities, the expertise of its staff and its ability to provide adequate clinical experience for students.      

Professor Asif Ahmed, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health at Aston University and Executive Dean of Aston Medical School, said: “We welcome the announcement by the Department of Health and are pleased to see that widening participation will be a priority for the distribution of new medical school places. We welcome the opportunity to help Government achieve its ambition to widen access to medical education and we are well placed to do this through our innovative Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme.

“Our aim is for 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 we have in the area.”

Sir Doug Ellis, who is sponsoring the programme, said at its launch: “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.”

Aston University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Alec Cameron, added: “Aston University has been a pioneer of high quality education combined with social mobility and we are now extending that to medical education. I am pleased that, in keeping with the University’s core values and with our mission to help support the West Midlands’ workforce of the future, we are embarking on training students to become doctors.”


Notes to the editor

Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme:  Year 12 pupils selected for the 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.

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

The two-year programme includes medical taster days, workshops and placements in local hospitals, GP practices and research laboratories, as well as support through the university application process. 

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.

Aston Medical School opens its doors to its first cohort of medical undergraduate students in September 2018. Students will embark on five years of study for an MBChB Medicine degree. The first intake will be made up of international students as well as local students  currently on the Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme who achieve the entry criteria. Go to the website for more information.

Aston University:  Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.

For more information, call Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4978 or email [email protected]  

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