Fewer medical students from poorer backgrounds

  • Date: 30 November 2011

THE number of medical students from low income brackets has dropped in the past year, a new BMA report has revealed.

The proportion of students from poorer backgrounds has fallen from 14 per cent to 11 per cent. Figures show they also graduate with £13,000 more debt than wealthier peers. The British Medical Association surveyed more than 2,800 students for its Medical Student Finance Survey 2010-11.

Average debt for medical graduates has risen from £23,909 to £24,092. But those from lower income brackets are graduating with a projected debt of £37,588, up from £26,324 in the past months. Graduates who completed a degree before doing a medical degree had an average debt of £30,748.

Almost all final year medical students (94 per cent) reported some form of debt from credit cards, overdrafts, student loans or other sources. Students from low income and graduate backgrounds are more likely to rely on higher levels of commercial borrowing, such as credit cards and student bank loans.

Elly Pilavachi, co-chair of the BMA’s medical student committee, said: “With the government intent on allowing universities to charge up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees from 2012 the picture for all medical students looks bleak.

“Ministers are running the risk of restricting access to medicine to those with the ability to pay rather than the talent to succeed. As someone from a modest background who is struggling under the current fee regime I would have thought twice about going to medical school if I had to cope with the predicted £70,000 worth of debt that many medical students could face under the new fee regime from next year.”

Read the full report here.

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