Applications fall 1.8% for medical schools

Applications to medical school are down for the second year running.

The drop comes in the second year that students have had to find as much as £3,000 a year to pay for their tuition.

A drop in graduate entrants to medicine could have a knock-on effect on general practice because graduates are most likely to choose a career in general practice. Overall, 347 fewer students want to study medicine in 2008, a drop of 1.8 per cent.

Total applicants from the UK fell by 2.3 per cent and stand at their lowest level since 2004.

Applications for graduate-entry courses have dipped since 2005 and, at 748, the total number of students starting a graduate course this year is the lowest for three years.

Unlike undergraduate entrants, graduates have no right to defer fees payment and have to pay in advance. Students on undergraduate courses pay four years' fees before receiving an NHS bursary.

Professor John Tooke, chairman of the Medical Schools Council, promised to watch entrants numbers.

'We need to support graduate entry. The financial burden there is less well catered for,' he said.

This year's BMA finance survey showed that students paid average fees of £2,779 last year and faced record levels of debt.

This year's first-year students owe 12 per cent more than a year ago, with an average student owing £7,776 by the end of their first year of study.

'To make matters worse, Scottish and Northern Ireland students on English courses are barred from receiving an NHS bursary. Even EU students get the bursary,' said Tom Foley, a student at Newcastle who comes from Northern Ireland and chairs the BMA's Student Finance Committee.

prisca.middlemiss@haymarket.com

Medical applicants
fewer medical applications recorded in 2007 - 347.

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