Aston Medical School and Royal College join forces

AMS and RCS sign Memorandum of Understanding
Professors Asif Ahmed and Michael Lavelle-Jones

31 January 2017  

  • Memorandum of Understanding will boost aspirations and educational opportunities
  • Royal College to provide practical support, mentors and awards
  • Students on widening participation programme to benefit from new agreement

Aston Medical School at Aston University is joining forces with Britain’s oldest surgical Royal College to offer a pathway to medical school for disadvantaged students.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Aston Medical School signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday, 30 January, pledging to work together to help ensure students who would otherwise not aspire to a career in medicine, due to background and circumstances, are supported and encouraged to opt for a medical degree. 

The Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme was launched by Aston University in November 2016, with the first 16 and 17-year-olds already reaping the benefits. The programme offers mentoring; workshops; work experience placements and taster days, alongside guidance to help with the university application process and interview techniques, and even a boot camp to support the students with A Level revision.

In return, the students need to maintain good grades and ensure they meet university admissions criteria, which will allow them to apply for one of the medical school places that have been set aside for students on the programme.

Professor Asif Ahmed, the founding Executive Dean of Aston Medical School and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health, Aston University, said: “I strongly believe that people with passion, purpose and compassion can change the world. Hence, I am delighted that the prestigious The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is partnering with us to provide support for our social mobility in medicine programme.

“The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is a symbolic sign of our two organisations’ strong commitment to working together to boost the aspirations and educational opportunities for young people from less advantaged backgrounds.

“The programme will help feed local students to Aston Medical School and other medical schools in the Midlands. This is in-line with the Prime Minister’s vision delivered in her first speech to the nation.

“Our goal is to increase the number of qualified healthcare professionals in the West Midlands working to redress the many health challenges of our region. I hope we will be able to encourage our qualified doctors and scientists to seek jobs in our local hospitals, GP practices and other healthcare settings and working with the Royal College will build their network across the nation.”

The College is to support the programme further by providing speakers throughout the course; assisting the University with mentoring; and establishing three prestigious College awards that will reward students for their efforts throughout the course. Additionally, the College will provide appropriate activities that will help with the acquisition of students, ensuring the programme is available to as many eligible young people as possible.

Ashley Hove, aged 16, a pupil at Stuart Bathurst School, Wednesbury, is among the first intake of students on the Pathway to Healthcare Programme. She said: “I would like to study Medicine because I’ve always been passionate about saving lives. I’ve always had an interest in children in particular because when I was younger I lost my little brother.

“I decided to apply to the Pathway to Healthcare programme because I felt like I didn’t really have the opportunity through the normal way. I felt like I was being unrealistic with what I wanted to do. For me it was the light at the end of the tunnel. It was probably the only way I was ever going to get the opportunity.”

RCSEd President Professor Michael Lavelle-Jones; a consultant colorectal and general surgeon who has previously been awarded the highest surgical teaching honour - ‘Silver Scalpel’ - said: 

“I am delighted that our College has signed this MoU today with Aston University.  We look forward to providing practical support to this new innovative Medical School as it develops. The Aston model is impressive.  Medicine is a hugely rewarding profession and we look forward to encouraging and supporting students from diverse backgrounds to make medicine their chosen career.”

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Aston Medical School and the College took place at an event at the university.


Notes to the editor

About Aston Medical School at Aston University

The new Aston Medical School is scheduled to open its doors to its first medical undergraduate students in the autumn of 2018. The majority of places will go to international students, although a small number are being set aside for local students completing the widening participation programme and who achieve the entry requirements for medical school.

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.

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been 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. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston held a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey.

About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh  

The RCSEd ( was first incorporated in as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world with a membership of over 22,000 professionals in almost 100 countries worldwide. The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through its examinations, and is also increasingly involved in the provision of surgical training and education, offering the UK’s only Faculty of Surgical Trainers, open to all those with an interest in surgical trainingregardless of College affiliation. RCSEd’s commercial enterprises offer conferencing and event facilities at The Playfair Building, Symposium Hall and Quincentenary Hall, and runs the Ten Hill Place Hotel.   

The Edinburgh-based College can be found on (0)131 527 1600 or and on  Twitter and    

For media enquiries about The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh contact Tingy Simoes on 020 7549 2863 or     

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

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