5 Great alternatives to studying medicine

Updated: Apr 17, 2020


The 2017/18 admissions cycle saw a record number of applicants applying to medical schools, a 12% rise on the previous year, taking numbers of applicant to medicine courses to a 5-year high of 22,340.


These record numbers were a result of extra places made available in an effort to plug the shortage of doctors in the NHS in time for Brexit; in 2016 the former health minister, Jeremy Hunt announced plans to train 1500 extra doctors by 2020 at English university, which actually translated to an additional 500 places.


Despite the additional number of places for wannabe doctors, the competition is still fierce; the average number of applications to courses at Cambridge University is 5 to every 1 available place.


To combat the large volume of applications, universities and colleges select the highest academic ability and potential, and employ a cross college moderation; Directors of Studies in each subject meet during the admissions period to discuss the overall standard of applications so they can see how their own College’s applicants compare, and through their pool system they ensure, as far as possible, that applicants in a given year are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by the level of applications to their chosen/allocated College.

To put into perspective the competition for med school, over the last three years Oxford University have interviewed just 28% of their applicants to medicine, resulting in a success of just 10% of the applications received. Similarly, of the 1,341 applications to Cambridge’s medical school, only 6.5% resulted in offers.


With such few applicants being accepted, what options remain?


Of course, there are other medical schools including those that require BMAT and UKCAT and those that do not. Few institutions accept students after the October deadline, although private institutions such as UCLAN continue to accept applications well after the deadline.


For those who find themselves without places, the end is not nigh. There are many alternatives to consider, here we look at 5 great alternatives to medicine: