Three new joint medical schools were given the nod by funding chiefs this week.
The programmes (Durham with Newcastle, Keele with Manchester, and Warwick with Leicester universities) are part of an expansion that will see 1,000 extra students being trained from next year. The biggest winners were the universities of Warwick and Leicester, which will get 113 new students from 2000.
Sir Brian Follett, Warwick's vice-chancellor, said: "Warwick has always wanted a medical school. We need one to reflect the fact that we have become a large, research-led civic university. We need medicine in order to develop our biosciences research." The present dean of Leicester's medical school, Frank Harris, will head the joint school.
Fast-track courses for graduates who want to train to be doctors were also established. The Higher Education Funding Council for England allocated 35 places from next year to a four-year course at St George's Hospital Medical School. The course, approved by the General Medical Council earlier this year, is open to graduates of any discipline. The universities of Warwick and Leicester will also run a graduate training course.
The funding council gave priority to attracting students from a broad range of social and ethnic groups, encouraging collaboration between universities and the National Health Service, and meeting regional needs. The University of Birmingham was particularly successful, receiving 100 extra places.
There was disappointment for the University of Hull. Its bid to establish a medical school was turned down.
No places were allocated to the Open University, the University of East Anglia and the universities of Plymouth and Exeter. But proposals from these institutions will be considered further.