The Scottish Government’s publication Opportunities for All is an explicit commitment to offer a place in learning or training to every 16-19 year old in Scotland who is not currently in employment, education or training. It requires the post-16 learning system to re-engage young people between their 16th and 20th birthdays with learning or training. The publication describes how post-16 learning and training delivery partners contribute to delivery of this commitment.
In response to this publication, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) initiatives for widening access in the University sector include;
- Extending opportunities for all by increasing the proportion of students entering Scottish Universities from disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds.
- Increasing the proportion of students from different protected characteristic backgrounds (such as age, race and disability), where these are underrepresented in the student population
- Working with universities to support students from both the above groups, to help them stay at University once they have gained a place.
All universities have agreed to widen access for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and the SFC will monitor their progress in doing this using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). However, the MBChB degree course is not included in this initiative.
The University of Aberdeen has a long-standing commitment to widening access to higher education. Our core aim is to increase opportunities for participation through the development, promotion and delivery of flexible and accessible high quality courses and programmes, underpinned by effective welfare, advisory and student support services.
The University of Aberdeen provides support in a variety of ways. Aim 4 Uni provides general guidance to pupils from some of the North East’s most deprived schools with the lowest progression to Higher Education. S6 Enhancement offers practical events to facilitate the Advanced Higher Curriculum to some of Scotland’s brightest pupils, often in geographically isolated areas. The Reach project specifically supports access to high demand professional subjects and the university works with ASPIRE North to support Scottish Executive objectives.
Aberdeen Medical School is involved in many widening access activities through the Reach Scotland scheme.
How widening access will be addressed in the 2019/20 MBChB admissions cycle
Within the admissions process additional support will be provided for applications from students from disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds.
In the admissions cycle 2017/18 the Institute of Education for Medical and Dental Sciences Admissions Committee will:
- Reduce the minimum academic requirement of AAAAB at higher level to AAAB for widening access applicants.
- Guarantee an interview for widening access applicants should their academic achievements meet our minimum academic requirements and their UKCAT score fall within the top 75% of scores for applicants to Aberdeen.
Widening access applicants are:
- Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile 1 or 2 postcode areas (SIMD20 and SIMD 40)
- from Reach target schools anywhere in Scotland
- Care experienced (young person in care or care leaver)
- Young carers
In addition to Widening Access discretionary points the Admissions Committee is also able to allocate additional discretionary points for very serious extenuating circumstances.
An annual programme of workshops are delivered in Aberdeen, Elgin and Inverness. These include;
- Careers in Health (S3 Grampian/S4 Highland): a general introduction to Health careers but with certain activities specifically geared to Medicine.
- So You Want to be a Doctor? (S4 Grampian / S5 Highland); A day of hands-on Clinical Skills activities led by clinicians and other health professionals.
- Medicine and Medical Science (S5 Grampian / S5 Highland): a day-conference style event at which doctors in a range of specialities give presentations about their work.
- Talking about Careers in Medicine (S5 Moray only) a day-conference style event at which doctors in a range of specialities give presentations about their work.
More specific support is provided for Reach school pupils in S6 who are planning an application to Medicine in a series of three workshops: How to write a Personal Statement; UCAT practice; and Mock Multiple Mini-Interviews.
Medical student ambassadors are recruited and trained to provide support to Reach schools. A team of 2/3 students establish a comfortable relationship with specific schools and where possible the team goes into school to give:
- Motivational talks to pupils (own experience of admissions and undergraduate experience).
- Structured advice about work experience/voluntary work/other activities that will enrich an application.
- Advice on writing a UCAS Personal Statement, Interview process etc.
- Email contact and liaison.
There is also NHS work experience schemes, Doctors at Work, run by both NHS Grampian and NHS Highland, which takes place in the summer months, for school pupils at the end of S5, who are preparing for an application to medicine. There are also some places on this scheme for local graduates.
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