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New subject guidance from QAA aims to increase adults entering medicine

Date: February 13 - 2020

We have today launched a new national framework for the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Medicine, a move we hope will lead to a greater number of adults beginning medical careers.

The government has set a target of delivering 6,000 more doctors in general practice in England by 2024-25, and the Access to HE Medicine Diploma could play a small but significant part in delivering new GPs.

Access to Higher Education changes lives by preparing adults without traditional qualifications for higher education. There are over 1,200 Access to HE Diplomas to choose from in a wide range of subjects including nursing, social sciences, business and education. However, while over 50% of all current Access to HE students in higher education are studying a healthcare subject, less than 1% are currently studying Medicine at university.

QAA’s new subject framework aims to change that. Working with Access Validating Agencies, Diploma providers and the medical schools of the University of Plymouth, Edge Hill University and Keele University, as well as the Medical Schools Council, QAA has delivered a new subject framework that delivers what the medical schools themselves want and need. Its aim is to make the Access to HE Diploma a recognised route into Medicine for adults in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Julie Mizon, Access Manager, QAA, said: 'What we’ve done, with the help of the Medical Schools Council and medical schools themselves, is to develop a national framework that better prepares Access to HE students for a medical degree and career.

'The new framework will give medical schools greater confidence in recruiting students with an Access to HE Diploma in Medicine, and that means better access to the profession for adults and those without traditional qualifications. It’s an exciting step forward, and I can’t wait to see the impact it will have in the coming years.'

The subject framework (known in the sector as a ‘Subject Descriptor’) will be piloted in September 2020, with an aim to fully implement the new framework across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the following academic year.

Paul Garrud, Chair, Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance, said: 'The Access to HE Diploma in Medicine is an important route for mature learners to gain entry to medical school and train as doctors. I believe the new specification from QAA will facilitate this, encouraging many more medical schools to accept students with this qualification.

'Britain needs more doctors to better serve our diverse population and the Access to HE route can contribute significantly to this.'

Find out more - read our latest blog from Julie Mizon, entitled: Delivering more GPs with Access to HE.