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Medical schools offering places via clearing

Concerns have been raised that dozens of hard-to-win medical school places are on offer through clearing.

The University of Liverpool School of Medicine is offering places for aspiring doctors through the clearing system for the first time this year.

The university seconded staff to help deal with the influx of calls to its clearing hotline for A-level students after they received their results today.

BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It’s very unusual for medical schools to need to use clearing.

‘However, with medical students facing massive levels of debt, years of pay freezes for doctors and low morale amongst junior doctors following the imposition of their contract, it would not be surprising if more prospective students are instead looking at other university courses rather than medicine.’

A University of Liverpool spokesperson said: ‘As part of our commitment to taking on the highest-performing students, we were able to make a limited number of medicine places available through the clearing process. We had an overwhelming response and stopped taking enquiries by late on Thursday morning.’

Students still have to get at least three A grades and will be interviewed before any offers are made.

St George’s Medical School in south London also has places available via clearing for would-be doctors – around 50 in total.

More than 4,000 keen aspiring doctors called the university’s phone line last year, the first time it had places in clearing.

However, competition will be tough and students will still be expected to achieve A grades, including biology and chemistry, in their exams and be interviewed for places.

St George’s principal Professor Jenny Higham said the school was able to offer places to students who had not been lucky enough to be accepted elsewhere.

She said: ‘Following clearing and adjustment last year, many outstanding students, who could not gain a place elsewhere, are now on the road to fulfilling their dreams of becoming a doctor or pursuing another specialism. We are enormously keen to open our doors to students with the same drive and ambition this year.’

The University of Sheffield Medical School also had some places on offer through clearing for high-achieving students.

Harrison Carter, co-chair of the BMA’s medical students committee, said some medical school set places aside this year as part of their selection process because of changes to the A-level assessment.

Some subjects are now graded solely by exam results, with no links to course work or AS levels.

Dr Carter said: ‘One of the reasons they did that is the unpredictability of the A-level process.’

He called for universities to make their policy clear so careers advisers can give aspiring doctors, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the best information about the application process.

‘It’s as though universities are making the clearing proves part of their application process. I feel they need to make it absolutely clear for careers advisers to give appropriate careers advice,’ he said.

He added the move was not unique to medicine and places at medical school were still oversubscribed.

‘It’s still the case that excellent candidates are being told they can’t do medicine.’