Government-funded Medical Schools in the UK have a limited number of places for international students. Only 5% of all places are open to international students, resulting in high competition.
However, UK GMC-accredited Medical Schools that are independent of government funding, such as the University of Buckingham Medical School, have no cap on International Medical Student numbers because all students pay the economic cost of the degree. With open competition for places at independent institutions, the best candidates can be selected and offered places to train irrespective of nationality.
The journey of an international student to study medicine in the UK can be a long one, with applications, successful interviews and pre-registration processes to complete. However, understanding and preparation for these processes will help students achieve success in the first part of their professional Medical careers.
Typically applications are completed via UCAS, but the University of Buckingham Medical School accepts direct applications in addition to applications via UCAS.
Academic requirements vary by institution, but you will usually need to achieve equivalent to A*AA-ABB at A-level to study Medicine in the UK. One common qualification required is an A grade (or higher) in Chemistry and/or Biology A-levels or an appropriate equivalent qualification in these subjects. An increasing proportion of UK Medical Schools, including the University of Buckingham Medical School, are now only asking for Biology OR Chemistry at A-level.
As well as academic qualifications, many schools ask candidates to sit an admissions test. The two most common are the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT). Not all schools require admissions tests. The University of Buckingham Medical School does not require students to sit or submit their marks for any admissions tests on application.
It is important to research and check the specific entry requirements for each institution carefully. A discussion, before application, with each institutions admissions team is a valuable exercise to ensure you are a good fit with the institution’s requirements.
Once a student has applied, and their academic qualifications have been deemed at a sufficiently high level, students go through an interview process. Most UK Medical Schools now use a multiple mini interview (MMI) system. MMIs are a series of tasks in which you receive a score to allow the ranking of candidates and then selection of the highest performers. For many of the tasks, there is not a correct answer as they are testing attributes, parts of your human character.
To prepare for an MMI, consider the following points:
Consider the following questions:
Upon being accepted to a UK Medical School, a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check must be completed. This is a criminal records check from 18 years old to the current date and can be completed when the student has been UK domiciled for greater than a year. For students who may have been domiciled internationally, at any point from 18 years, a letter of good conduct from the domiciled nation will be required. Letters of good conduct requirements vary with each country, but a Medical School admissions office should provide some advice.
Due to the nature of the profession and training environments, offers to study medicine will be subject to satisfactory health screening. The health screening requires completing a detailed health questionnaire by the applicant and a possible appointment with the University’s Occupational Health Department. To be admitted and continue on the programme, students must be deemed medically fit for both practice and theory by the Occupational Health Department. Students will be required to comply with any viral screenings as requested by the Department of Health.
International students may also need to apply for a UK student visa once offered a place on a Medicine course. There are various requirements to ensure visa applications are successful, including:
When applying outside the UK, the earliest you can apply for a visa is three months before you start your course; a decision is usually made within three weeks. How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed. If you are 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. You can arrive in the UK up to 1 month before your Medical degree starts as your course is longer than six months in duration.
Good luck in your journey to medicine in the UK!
Written by Dr Joanne Selway, Phase 1 Lead MB ChB, University of Buckingham Medical School
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