Rejected candidate loses court bid for place

August 25, 1995

University medical schools have escaped being forced to narrow their entry criteria following a court ruling this week.

Conor O'Reilly, an academically qualified teenager who was rejected by Glasgow as a prospective student, failed in a legal challenge against the faculty's admissions procedures in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Mr O'Reilly, now 17, who has six Highers at grade A, and was accepted by Scotland's four other medical schools at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities, sought a judicial review, claiming that Glasgow had failed to inform him that candidates had to have relevant work experience.

The university argued before Lord Coulsfield that while admission was not based solely on academic qualifications, there was no general requirement for work experience, and Mr O'Reilly was not rejected on these grounds.

Glasgow interviews all prospective students. Admissions administrator Ruth Stewart, who attended all of Glasgow's 800 interviews this year, said Mr O'Reilly had been one of the poorest applicants, and lacked good communication skills. "He was rejected because he didn't show an enthusiasm and commitment to medicine."

Stuart MacPherson, associate dean of admissions and a kidney transplant surgeon, said that candidates were being admitted not simply to five years of medical school, but to a life in medicine. "We need to protect those who are going to be unhappy in a medical life from embarking on that pathway."

Mr MacPherson said: "If this case had been lost, it would have made every medical school nervous about making judgements on anything other than strictly objective grounds, and the only objective grounds available to us are academic qualifications."

Both the General Medical Council and the Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee have recommended that medical schools take account of factors other than academic ability.

Mr O'Reilly, whose father is an ear, nose and throat surgeon and an honorary senior lecturer at Glasgow, said he was disappointed and now had to think about whether his future was in medicine.

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