University access and widening participation schemes
Many medical schools in the UK have access and widening participation schemes to allow all students to have the opportunity to get into medical school. They are aimed at people from under-represented backgrounds, who may be the first in their family to go to university, are from areas of low socio-economic status or come from schools where many people do not go to university. Having a good knowledge about these programmes will allow you to apply strategically to medical school and you can find out more about this here.
Some students are not aware of these opportunities so miss out on events, summer schools and schemes, which could potentially help them with their applications. These opportunities are available to students in Years 9 to 13 and can give them a taste of life at medical school to help direct their career paths.
Additionally, universities offer contextual offers to students once they send off their UCAS application if they meet the required widening participation criteria. Contextual offers can reduce standard grades by up to 3 grades depending on the university! For example, applicants who complete the University of Newcastle PARTNERS summer school can receive a contextual offer of BBB instead of the standard offer of AAA.
Medical schools such as the University of Bristol and the University of Nottingham allow students to complete summer schools, which offers them a guaranteed interview regardless of their UCAT score if the required criteria are met.
Here are all the available opportunities for students who would like to apply for widening participation schemes and contextual admissions at UK medical schools:
Aberdeen Medical School offers opportunities for students to apply to insight days, career events and support for medicine applications. To be eligible, you must meet one of the criteria, such as being a carer, being in the eligible postcode area in Scotland, having free school meals, and being in care. Further criteria can be checked here. This is through a National Schools Programme called REACH.
You can also get in touch with the Aberdeen Medic Outreach Society, which holds workshops that can support you through your medicine application.
Applicants who meet the widening access criteria on their website will be eligible to receive a conditional offer of ABB including Chemistry and Biology, Physics or Maths for A-levels.
If you meet the criteria on the Widening Access to Medicine Scheme (WAMS) eligibility questionnaire, you will be offered a reduced A-level offer of ABB. This questionnaire will be sent to you to fill out once you complete your UCAS application.
Ashton University offers contextual offers to students who meet their widening participation criteria. This is done automatically once their UCAS application has been sent, which can lower their A-level offer by 1 or 2 grades.
Additionally, the Wesleyan Pathway to Medicine Programme is an 18-month programme to which students entering year 12 can apply. Successful completion allows you to receive a contextual offer as stated above. The Keith Bradshaw Introduction to Healthcare programme is aimed at year 8, 9 and 10 students in the West Midlands, which will give you an insight into medicine.
Pathways to Birmingham is available for year 12 students to apply, which can allow students to receive an offer which is 2 grades below the standard offer.
Students who complete the BrightMed programme are eligible for a guaranteed interview. This programme works with students from year 9 to year 13.
Additionally,BrightIdeas is a scheme aimed at year 12 students, which allows them to undertake research projects in medicine to enhance their skills, which they could talk about when applying to medical school.
The University of Bristol offers many schemes such as Access to Bristol, Pathways to Health Sciences, Sutton Trust Summer School, Insight to Bristol Summer School, and Next Step Bristol, which allow widening participation applicants to get into medicine. Insight into Bristol for example enables students to get a contextual offer of ABB with an A in A-level Chemistry and a guaranteed interview.
Cambridge takes into account contextual data, such as eligibility for free school meals, socio-economic data and information about the schools you've studied at during the application process, but they do not give lower grade offers.
Once your UCAS application is submitted, Cardiff University generates a contextual score, which ensures they take into account disadvantages to widen participation in medicine.
They offer students a contextual offer of ABB including Chemistry and Biology, Physics or Maths if they meet the criteria.
A programme called Preparing for Medicine allows year 12 students to go on a 3-day residential which helps them with their applications to medical school.
Exeter offers a contextual offer of AAC at A-level if you meet their criteria.
Glasgow offersadjusted offers if you meet the criteria or have participated in their Sutton Trust Summer School or Reach programme.
If the criteria are met, Hull York Medical School offers applicants a contextual offer of AAB including Biology and Chemistry at A-level. They also offer contextual offers if you complete their schemes, such as Hull York Medical School Pathways to Medicine programme.
Students who meet the widening participation criteria will be eligible to receive a contextual offer of AAA instead of the standard offer of A*AA.
Students who take part in Steps2Medicine or an alternative UKWPMED programme will be eligible for an offer, which is 2 grades below the standard offer.
If you meet the widening participation criteria, you will be offered a contextual offer of ABB, which is below the standard offer.
Access to Leeds is a programme which offers contextual offers, if you take part. The Interdisciplinary Science Foundation Programme (CFGO) is for mature students and they can progress to MBChB, if they meet the admissions criteria.
The University of Leicester takes contextual data from applicants into consideration during the application process, such as for interviews or when giving out offers. Additionally, applicants who have completed the Realising Opportunities Programme and Access Leicester will be eligible for a guaranteed interview and they will get acontextual offer of ABB instead of the standard offer of AAA, if they meet all other requirements such as not having a band 4 in Situational Judgement.
Lincoln Medical School offers a contextual offer for applicants who met their criteria. If you complete one of their summer schools, you will receive a guaranteed interview and they will not take into account the score that you get for your UCAT. Applicants will still need to take the UCAT exam.
University of Liverpool takes into account contextual data when selecting applicants for an offer. If you meet their criteria such as being care-experienced or living in certain areas, you will receive an offer up to two grades lower than the standard offer.
University of Manchester offers contextual offers of AAB instead of the standard offer of AAA if their criteria is met.
If you complete thePARTNERS Academic Summer School, you will receive a contextual offer of BBB instead of the standard offer of AAA.
Similar to Lincoln Medical School, University of Nottingham offers a contextual offer to applicants who have met their criteria. If you complete one of their summer schools, you will receive a guaranteed interview and they will not take into account the score that you get for your UCAT. Applicants will still need to take the UCAT exam.
University of Oxford takes into account contextual data to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity of getting into medical school. They look at information about your school, the area you live in and your care status when you submit your UCAS application form. Applicants that meet their criteria are strongly recommended for interview.
University of Plymouth applicants, who meet the widening participation criteria, will be given an offer of AAB, instead of the standard offer of AAA.
Additionally, they hold summer schools for year 11s and 12s from under-represented backgrounds, which gives them a taste of what medical school is like.
Queen Mary University takes into accountcontextual data such as the area you live in and the school you attended when you apply to the medical school. They will give you a lower grade offer if you meet their criteria.
Applicants who studied at a Secondary School in Northern Ireland will have their grades at AS-level used instead of GCSEs during the application process. UCAT and A-level predicted grades will still be taken into account.
Queen's University Belfast also has a Pathway Opportunity Programme where students can get a guaranteed interview and may receive an offer for medical school which is one grade below the standard offer, if they complete the programme.
They have schemes which allow students to have a taste of medicine at Sheffield. Access Sheffield is a scheme which allows students to have a contextual offer which is one grade below the standard offer.
University of Southampton takes into account contextual data such as your postcode and whether you have participated in any of their programmes when you apply to their medical school. Students that are flagged up as having met their criteria will be given a lower grade offer.
They take contextual data into account when you apply for their medical school and offer a contextual offer of ABB with an A in Chemistry if you meet their criteria. They also offer a programme called Reach, which allows students to learn more about medicine.
They offer application support and contextual offers, 2 grades below the standard offer.
They offer a guaranteed interview if you attend their summer school. They also give contextual offers if you meet their criteria.
They offer contextual offers of AAB and also have a scheme called Target Medicine, which allows applicants to be mentored throughout their medical school application.
Applicants from disadvantaged groups, low-income families and the first in their families to go to university are considered for a contextual offer. They will look at your information on your UCAS application when you have submitted it and email you if you are eligible for a lower offer.
In addition, some universities have medical degree courses with a foundation year. This can allow students who meet widening participation criteria to get into medical school:
- University of Aberdeen
- University of Bristol
- University of Bradford
- University of Dundee
- Edge Hill University
- University of Glasgow
- Hull York Medical School
- Keele University
- King's College London
- Lancaster University
- University of Leeds
- University of Leicester
- Lincoln Medical School
- University of Liverpool
- University of Nottingham
- Norwich Medical School (UEA)
- University of Plymouth
- University of Southampton
- St Andrews
To learn more about foundation courses, take a look at our post!
Written by Naa-Dromoh Quarshie