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, 317 (7166), 1111-6; discussion 1116-7

Factors Affecting Likelihood of Applicants Being Offered a Place in Medical Schools in the United Kingdom in 1996 and 1997: Retrospective Study


Factors Affecting Likelihood of Applicants Being Offered a Place in Medical Schools in the United Kingdom in 1996 and 1997: Retrospective Study

I C McManus. BMJ.

Erratum in

  • BMJ 1999 Jan 9;318(7176):94


Objective: To assess the relation between a range of measures and the likelihood of applicants to medical schools in the United Kingdom being offered a place overall and at each medical school, with particular emphasis on ethnic minority applicants.

Design: Data provided by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service on 92 676 applications to medical schools from 18 943 candidates for admission in 1996 and 1997. Statistical analysis was by multiple logistic regression.

Main outcome measures: Receipt of a conditional or unconditional offer of a place at medical school.

Results: Eighteen separate measures were independently associated with the overall likelihood of receiving an offer. Applicants from ethnic minority groups were disadvantaged, as were male applicants, applicants applying late in the selection season, applicants making non-medical (so called insurance) choices, applicants requesting deferred entry (so called gap year), and applicants at further or higher education or sixth form colleges. Analysis at individual medical schools showed different patterns of measures that predicted offers. Not all schools disadvantaged applicants from ethnic minority groups and the effect was stable across the two years, suggesting structural differences in the process of selection. The degree of disadvantage did not relate to the proportion of applicants from ethnic minority groups.

Conclusions: The data released by the Council of Heads of Medical Schools allow a detailed analysis of the selection process at individual medical schools. The results suggest several areas in which some candidates are disadvantaged, in particular those from ethnic minority groups. Similar data in the future will allow monitoring of changes in selection processes.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Percentage of applicants receiving an offer in relation to educational achievement and ethnic group. Bars show 95% confidence intervals; they are not shown for mean grade in Scottish highers because sample sizes were comparatively small in some groups. Overall difference between white and non-white applicants for highers was significant (P=0.0232) after taking all other factors into account (see text)
Figure 2
Figure 2
Disadvantage of non-white applicants in each of the ethnic groups relative to white applicants (odds ratio of 1 indicated by vertical line)
Figure 3
Figure 3
Disadvantage at medical schools in the United Kingdom of non-white applicants in 1996 and 1997 ordered by size of disadvantage in 1997. Horizontal line indicates odds ratio of 1 (no disadvantage). The estimate of disadvantage is corrected for all other variables in the analysis. Oblique dashed line in 1996 indicates disadvantage at each school in 1997. HMS=Hospital Medical School, London; CXWMS=Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London; QMW=Queen Mary and Westfield College, London; UMDS=United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals, London
Figure 4
Figure 4
Disadvantage of applications from ethnic minority groups expressed as odds ratio (y axis) in relation to proportion of applicants to a medical school who were from an ethnic minority group in 1996 and 1997

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