Students have not been required to sign the register since the Second World War, but the GMC promised to review this situation in its education strategy by 2011-13.
Proponents for the scheme argued that it would bring greater consistency to student fitness-to-practise decisions.
But the GMC has now ruled that it will not re-introduce student registration, and instead focus on developing stronger relationships with students.
It said ‘significant resources’ would be required to manage student fitness-to-practise cases, and this money could be more effectively spent on improving local systems.
It is also unlikely that the GMC would be able to handle medical student fitness-to-practise cases as quickly as medical schools, it added.
The GMC said: ‘It would be manifestly disproportionate to register 35,000 medical students in order to deal with a handful of serious fitness-to-practise cases which would be better dealt with locally in the first place.
‘Without compelling evidence of patient safety benefits, it would not be possible to obtain government support for the legislation necessary to introduce mandatory registration.’
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the GMC will continue its efforts to forge strong links with medical students.
He said: ‘Our view is that the main objective is that students understand what the GMC does as well as the obligations on them as medical students and later as doctors.
‘We don’t think student registration is necessarily the way we will achieve this. We need to get closer engagement with medical students.’