BMA warns increasing debts put low income students off studying medicine

The number of medical students from low income families has fallen in the last 12 months, due to increasing debt, the BMA has warned

The BMA’s medical student finance survey surveyed more than 2,800 medical students about their finances.

The survey ‘raises concerns about the government’s plans to widen access to medicine from low income groups’, the BMA said.

It found that the average debt of a graduating medical student is £24,092.

However those from lower income brackets face £13,000 more debt and are likely to graduate with a projected debt of £37,588, the BMA found.

The survey showed that the number of medical students from low income backgrounds has fallen from 14% to 11% in the past year.

Nearly all medical students in their final year (94%) reported some form of debt and nearly half (44%) said they relied on financial assistance from friends and family.

Elly Pilavachi, co-chair of the BMA’s medical student committee and a medical student from Brighton said that financial restrictions were only making medicine accessible to those who could pay, rather than those who had the talent to succeed.

‘As someone from a modest background who is struggling under the current fee regime I would have thought twice about going to medical school if I had to cope with the predicted £70,000 worth of debt that many medical students could face under the new fee regime from next year.’

Marion Matheson, co-chair of the BMA medical students' committee and a graduate medical student from Bristol described the findings as ‘deeply concerning’.

She added: ‘This important group make up a significant part of the medical school population and are more likely to come from low income backgrounds. Many bring valuable experience and skills to the medical profession that benefit patients, the NHS, clinical research and other disciplines.’

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