Number of Scottish medical students falls despite rise in university places

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Credit: George Joch, courtesy Argonne National Laboratory

Jack Mckenna
Writer

According to figures gathered by The Scotsman, there has been a significant decrease since 2000 in Scottish-domiciled medical students in Scottish universities. The 12% decline – 63% in 2000 to the current 51% – comes despite an overall rise in medical places and a country-wide lack of GPs.

Given the inclination of medical students to practice in their own countries, Scotland is now facing a predicted shortage of 828 medical students by 2021. Medical spokesmen Dr Miles Mack, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), and Dr Alan McDevitt of the British Medical Association (BMA) have both raised concerns indicating the necessity for greater accessibility of medical schools, as well as the need for practitioners strongly connected to their communities.

What that 51% means is that out of 4,455 medical places in Scottish universities, only 2,275 went to Scottish residents last year. In an attempt to remedy those figures, the Scottish Government has established the country’s first graduate-level medicine course – a four-year degree programme seeking to address the current recruitment shortage.

40 places will be available to graduates from any discipline, and the course is hoped to treat the current crisis.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Miles Briggs, Shadow Health Secretary, said: “If the percentage of Scots students studying medicine had been maintained at the level of 1999-2000, hundreds more Scots medics would be being trained now which would help address the recruitment crisis in general practice and other specialties.”