More than half the students to sign up for undergraduate study at the UK’s first private medical school, where a degree will set you back £157,500, are from the UK, Times Higher Education has learned.
The University of Buckingham’s four-and-a-half year MBChB programme is due to begin teaching in January 2015 and has already filled 48 of its 70 places. Of these, 25 applicants are British, and 23 are from overseas, the university said.
To be accepted on to the £35,000-a-year course, students must achieve the equivalent of at least three A levels at grade A, including chemistry and at least one more science or maths subject, and not including general studies or critical thinking.
When the degree was first announced, the university said that it was “designed to appeal to a global market”, suggesting that international students would make up much of the course intake. However, these early recruitment figures demonstrate that domestic students are not being deterred by the fees incurred by funding their studies independently, and that there is demand in the UK market for private medical programmes.
“Ucas figures for last year showed that 930 female students and 850 male students with straight As at A level failed to get into medical school,” said Mike Cawthorne, head of the School of Medicine. “Although we have had an excellent response already from high-calibre students, we hope that many of the ‘unplaced’ students this year will apply for places.”
The university said it expects to fill the remaining places within the next two months.
Earlier this month, the University of Buckingham Medical School Development Board, chaired by businessman and philanthropist Brian Kingham, launched a £30 million fundraising campaign to help finance the school’s activities. He described Buckingham as “a wonderful innovator in the delivery of healthcare”.
Buckingham is one of three UK universities that have announced private medical school ventures in the last 12 months.
In November last year, the University of Central Lancashire announced that its School of Medicine and Dentistry plans to offer a five-year undergraduate programme to 35 students from September next year.
It, too, will charge £35,000 a year, although entry requirements will be marginally lower than Buckingham’s, with students requiring two As and a B at A level, including chemistry, preferably biology, and “a third related academic subject”.
A spokesman said Uclan had been “encouraged by the interest received from countries such as Canada, India, Mauritius, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and Nigeria”.
Last month, Aston University in Birmingham announced that it is also to launch an independently funded medical school, which will open to students in the autumn of 2017. It will accommodate 100 students a year, of whom 20 will attend on scholarships targeted at local children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The university has yet to announce details of course fees or entry requirements.