Royal College and Aston University Help Disadvantaged Students Make the Cut

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31 Jan 2017

Britain’s oldest surgical Royal College is to join forces with one of the country’s most established research-led universities to offer a pathway to medical school for disadvantaged students. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is to work with Aston Medical School at Aston University to ensure that students who would otherwise not aspire to a career in medicine, due to background and circumstances, are supported and encouraged to opt for a medical degree.

The Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme was launched by Aston University in November 2016, with the first 16 and 17-year-olds already reaping the benefits. The programme offers mentoring; workshops; work experience placements and taster days, alongside guidance to help with the university application process and interview techniques, and even a boot camp to support the students with A Level revision. In return, the students need to maintain good grades and ensure they meet university admissions criteria, which will allow them to apply for one of the medical school places that have been ‘ring-fenced’ for students on the programme.

Professor Asif Ahmed, the founding Executive Dean of Aston Medical School and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Health, Aston University, says:

“I strongly believe that people with passion, purpose and compassion can change the world. Hence, I am delighted that the prestigious The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is partnering with us to provide support for our social mobility in medicine programme. The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is a symbolic sign of our two organisations’ strong commitment to working together to boost the aspirations and educational opportunities for young people from less advantaged backgrounds.

“The programme will help feed local students to Aston Medical School and other medical schools in the Midlands. This is in-line with the Prime Minister’s vision delivered in her first speech to the nation.

“Our goal is to increase the number of qualified healthcare professionals in the West Midlands working to redress the many health challenges of our region. I hope we will be able to encourage our qualified doctors and scientists to seek jobs in our local hospitals, GP practices and other healthcare settings and working with the Royal College will build their network across the nation.”

The College is to support this programme further by providing speakers throughout the course; assisting the University with mentoring; and establishing three prestigious College awards that will reward students for their efforts throughout the course. Additionally, the College will provide appropriate activities that will help with the acquisition of students, ensuring the programme is available to as many eligible young people as possible.

Ashley Hove, aged 16, a pupil at Stuart Bathurst School, Wednesbury, is among the first intake of students on the Pathway to Healthcare Programme. She says:

“I would like to study Medicine because I’ve always been passionate about saving lives. I’ve always had an interest in children in particular because when I was younger I lost my little brother.

“I decided to apply to the Pathway to Healthcare programme because I felt like I didn’t really have the opportunity through the normal way. I felt like I was being unrealistic with what I wanted to do. For me it was the light at the end of the tunnel. It was probably the only way I was ever going to get the opportunity.”

RCSEd President Professor Michael Lavelle-Jones; a consultant colorectal and general surgeon who has previously been awarded the highest surgical teaching honour (‘Silver Scalpel’); says:

“I am delighted that our College has signed this MoU today with Aston University. We look forward to providing practical support to this new innovative Medical School as it develops. The Aston model is impressive. Medicine is a hugely rewarding profession and we look forward to encouraging and supporting students from diverse backgrounds to make medicine their chosen career.”

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the College and Aston University took place at an event at the University on Monday 30 January 2017.

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