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Government lifts caps on university medical school places

The Government has lifted its cap on the number of domestic university students who can take up a place at medical school in England.

It follows a national outcry over the way in which A-level grades were marked this year, resulting the in Government conceding it would allow school-leavers to have their grades based on teacher assessments.

There were fears this would leave successful candidates without a place at medical school, due to the limit on places.

But in a statement today the Department of Education confirmed the cap on places for healthcare-related degrees, including medicine, has been removed and that it would also be providing extra funding to medical schools to support the move.

The RCGP said it was ‘delighted’ with the announcement and said it hoped the boost in the number of students would mean many go on to work in general practice and help tackle the ‘severe shortage’ of GPs.

In a statement, the Department of Education said: ‘The Government and higher education sector have together agreed that all students who achieved the required grades will be offered a place at their first choice university.

‘Yesterday’s (19 August) daily meeting of the Government’s Higher Education Taskforce agreed to honouring all offers across courses to students who meet their conditions this coming year wherever possible, or if maximum capacity is reached to offer an alternative course or a deferred place.’

It added: ‘To support this commitment, the Government has lifted the cap on domestic medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and undergraduate teacher training places. Additional teaching grant funding will also be provided to increase capacity in medical, nursing, STEM and other high-cost subjects which are vital to the country’s social needs and economy.’

Health secretary Matt Hancock said on Twitter he was ‘thrilled that we’re lifting the cap on domestic medicine and dentistry places’. 

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘We’re delighted that the Government has heeded our calls to lift the cap on medical school placements this year, and that all aspiring medical students who have met their eligibility criteria to enter medical school will be given their chance to become doctors.

‘We have a severe shortage of GPs across the UK, and hopefully many of these students will eventually choose to work in NHS general practice, helping us to deliver care to more than a million patients every day.’

He added: ‘We’re also pleased to hear that medical schools will receive extra funding to support them to deliver high quality medical teaching to this expanded cohort of students. We look forward to seeing more details of these plans, and how they will support medical schools to logistically meet this challenge, as well as financially.’

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