Deans back medics' call for special treatment

June 2, 1995

Medical school deans are backing a call from their students for the chance to borrow larger amounts of money from the Student Loans Company, writes Olga Wojtas.

The University of London Union medical group is spearheading a national campaign for clinical medical, dental and veterinary students to be able to borrow an extra Pounds 1,000 annually to cover their extended teaching year. They also oppose any cut in the loan to final-year students.

The council of deans of United Kingdom medical schools is strongly supporting their claim, pointing out that teaching takes up 48 weeks each year, and that every school apart from one has a final year of between 40 and 50 weeks.

Peter Richards, chairman of the council, said: "We are very concerned that the current position is unfair because it does not recognise the special position of clinical medical students. The students are only asking for an increased opportunity to help themselves."

Greater emphasis on students learning in the community rather than in medical schools meant increased travel costs, Professor Richards said.

Students also had to buy medical equipment and expensive textbooks.

Student campaigners are expecting to meet Tim Boswell, further and higher education minister, within the next few weeks and are currently urging constituency MPs to sign an early day motion tabled by Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, in the hope of winning a parliamentary debate.

The motion says that medical students face special circumstances, and calls on the Government to make "greater financial provision" for them.

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