Second programme to widen access to medical careers launches

Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare launch
Students at the Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme launch in 2016

28 October 2017 

  • Students from disadvantaged areas continue to get chance of a medical career
  • Two-year programme aims to ‘level the playing field’
  • Almost 50% on first course have applied to Aston Medical School

More than 100 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 ongoing learning and development programme at Aston Medical School.

Following a successful first year, The Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme welcomes its second intake of Year 12 students today, Saturday, 28 October.

Professor Asif Ahmed, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health at Aston University and Executive Dean of Aston Medical School, said: “Widening participation is a Government priority for the distribution of new medical school places and we are thrilled to be playing our part already in widening access to medical education.

“We launched our Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme in October 2016 with over 100 students from across Birmingham, the Black Country and Solihull. It was the first programme of its kind in this country, with the ambition of raising the aspirations of bright young people living in less advantaged circumstances to pursue a career in medicine or another health profession such as pharmacy, optometry, biomedical sciences and audiology.

“Those first students are now considering their future career options. They will be sitting their A Levels in 2018 and almost 50 per cent have applied to the MBChB undergraduate degree course in medicine starting at Aston Medical School next September. We also expect students will apply for other healthcare degree courses at Aston University by the closing date in January.”

Amanda Bishop, Widening Participation and Admissions Manager, Aston Medical School, said: “We are so proud of the ongoing development of our first cohort of students. We have watched them blossom in confidence and gain knowledge, skills and information to enable them to make informed choices about their career pathway.

“We are now halfway through the first programme and very excited to continue with them on their journey. During this second year the programme will focus on attainment and transition and will include a revision ‘boot camp’ when they will focus in-depth on one of their A Level subjects.” 

The launch on Saturday will see 200 young people, their families and teachers attend Aston University for a day of information sessions and talks on topics including how to make the most of the programme, student finance and all about Aston Medical School.

The highlight will be a motivational speech by Musharaf Asghar, star of Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire. Known as Mushy, he overcame the debilitating stammer that had blighted his education with the help of his school teacher Mr Burton and went on to do a BTEC in science.  

Developed by Aston Medical School and sponsored by Sir Doug Ellis, the Pathway to Healthcare programme was set up to feed students living in less advantaged circumstances to Aston Medical School and other local medical schools, as well as to other healthcare degree courses.

During the programme, students benefit from a wide range of experiences and support including medical taster days, workshops and research projects, work placements in local hospitals and GP practices and a residential summer school. They also receive support to guide them through the university application and interview process.

When the scheme launched, Sir Doug Ellis, 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.”

If you are interested in joining a future programme, or you know someone who might be, more information and an application form can be found on the website.  


Notes to the editor

Aston Medical School takes its first cohort of undergraduates on the MBChB medical degree course in September 2018. In addition to places for local students from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds, the cohort will include international medical students.

All new medical schools in the UK have to be accredited by the General Medical Council (GMC) before they can open to undergraduates. In July 2017 Aston Medical School was given the go-ahead to recruit medical undergraduates.

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.

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 are also supported in applying to other medical schools.

For more information, photographs or to arrange interviews, etc: contact:  Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, on 0121 204 4978 or