Credit: Lisa Paul

Calls for Scottish Government to raise medical school cap

By Ross McCool

Royal College of Physicians Glasgow says no student should miss a place as England’s Health Secretary announces a “review” of expanding the cap south the border.

The Scottish government is now facing pressure to review the limits of prospective students applying for medical school places in Scotland after England’s health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said that a review on lifting the caps would take place in England.

This comes after the government U-turns around exam results where students have downgraded results which affected many students’ UCAS applications. 

Because of this, universities are now stating that there are not enough places for every applicant under the current cap system. This has placed additional strain in a situation where places are artificially controlled. 

Many fear that Scottish students would be at a disadvantage when trying to secure places in medical school throughout the country. 

There has long been controversy over university caps on courses, especially around industry accredited courses such as medicine, with opposition from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party dating back to 2016. 

As education and health being devolved to areas in Scotland, many are calling on Holyrood to reconsider its stance.  

This has become an issue of concern as many fear that if caps in England are lifted and not in Scotland, top Scottish students may be tempted to study in England. 

Scottish government analysis has also shown that Scotland has over two times better medical student retention for advanced training than anywhere else in the UK. Concerns have been raised that inaction on the part of the Scottish government could dampen this. 

Many from the field of medicine have warned the government around the consequences of such a policy, including Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Glasgow who said that school leavers with the necessary qualifications should be allowed to study medicine.  

The interim president of RCP Edinburgh, Professor Angela Thomas warned of a possible “brain drain” if the Scottish government’s position is not reconsidered, stating: “While we recognise that the number of medical school places has increased in Scotland over recent years, the Scottish government should undertake work now to ensure that the number of places on Scottish medicine courses remains competitive.” 

Professor Thomas is also calling on the Scottish government to match this with a raise in internal hospital places for student doctors in acute medicine, where students learn to better deal with patients that suffer from chronic diseases and those with complex pre-existing health conditions.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments