Four­fold rise in poor stu­dents gain­ing med­i­cal de­grees

The Herald - - POLITICS - AN­DREW DEN­HOLM

A UNI­VER­SITY has seen a four­fold in­crease in the pro­por­tion of med­i­cal stu­dents com­ing from the poor­est com­mu­ni­ties in Scot­land.

Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity now has nearly 20 per cent of its med­i­cal stu­dents from MD20 post­codes – the most dis­ad­van­taged neigh­bour­hoods in the coun­try. A decade ago the pro­por­tion was just 4.5%.

Dr Neil Croll, the uni­ver­sity’s head of widen­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion, said the trans­for­ma­tion was down to a range of pro­grammes.

He said: “There are many his­tor­i­cal and deeply-rooted bar­ri­ers block­ing the way to uni­ver­sity for bright pupils from dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties. It’s a tragic waste of ta­lent that hurts the coun­try.

“Essen­tially, we have to re­move those bar­ri­ers. It’s sim­ply a case of be­ing se­ri­ous about iden­ti­fy­ing th­ese bar­ri­ers at all lev­els of the process and then ei­ther re­mov­ing them com­pletely or find­ing ways of get­ting round them.

“If uni­ver­si­ties are se­ri­ous about this we need to un­der­stand the so­cial, cul­tural and eco­nomic com­plex­i­ties and chal­lenges that ex­ist in the lives of our tar­get stu­dents. That’s what widen­ing ac­cess is all about.” Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity’s GAP pro­gramme is one of a suite of pre-en­try widen­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion for school leavers and adult re­turn­ers to ed­u­ca­tion.

Th­ese in­clude early sec­ondary, sum­mer school, top-up, and ac­cess to ca­reer pro­grammes and have been ex­panded over the last few years.

They now reach around 25,000 pupils in more than 120 sec­ondary schools in the west of Scot­land and their sum­mer schools tar­get pupils across all of Scot­land’s 360 sec­ondary schools.

Stu­dents have to nav­i­gate the uni­ver­sity tai­lored widen­ing ac­cess pro­gramme with those that are suc­cess­ful al­lowed en­try with lower grades.

The nor­mal en­try tar­iff for medicine at Glas­gow is five As, but ac­cess stu­dents are al­lowed in with four As and a B or, in some cir­cum­stances, three As and two Bs.

Pro­fes­sor Sir An­ton Mus­catelli, prin­ci­pal of Glas­gow Uni­ver­sity, said: “The uni­ver­sity runs ex­ten­sive out­reach pro­grammes to en­sure we re­cruit the most able stu­dents re­gard­less of so­cio-eco­nomic back­ground.”

Read the full story in to­day’s Her­ald mag­a­zine

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