Undergrad marks to play role in admissions
From Health cover Left unchanged will be the ability of schoolleavers to win a place on the graduate course, by being accepted for a combination degree that involves a non-medical degree to be completed first. The program, open to 30 students each year, gives successful applicants a guaranteed place in the medical course on successful completion of the first degree. For the first time, economics will be added to the list of possible first degrees.
In March the MedicalJournalofAustralia published the findings of research by the University of Queensland on the effectiveness of its admission processes, which led to UQ’s decision to scrap interviews.
The research ( MJA 2008;188:349-54) found that the GPA was most strongly correlated with academic performance during the medical course, with the interview having the next strongest correlation and the GAMSAT the weakest correlation.
The association between GPA and performance grew weaker over the four years of the course, while that of the interview and the GAMSAT grew stronger.
In an editorial in the same issue of the journal, Professor David Powis — from the University of Newcastle, which first introduced problem-based learning and evaluation of personal qualities into Australian medical admissions processes in the 1970s — described UQ’s move as ‘‘ puzzling’’, especially as the university had decided to retain the GAMSAT which its own research had shown to be a poorer predictor of subsequent performance.
‘‘ The most logical explanation for the proposed selection strategy (at UQ) is one founded on cost,’’ Professor Powis wrote.
Stephen Leeder, a former dean of medicine at Sydney and now director of the Australian Health Policy Institute at the university, said one option that would now be considered by the working party was to divide the interview into three parts involving different interviewers. An average score could then be derived, evening out blips caused by subjectivity — one of the main reasons why interviews are criticised.
Professor Leeder said the system was already successfully used in Canada, but more work needed to be done to determine if it would be suitable for Sydney.