Regulation of overseas degrees to continue

CONCERNS have been raised that UK medical students could face the possibility of their courses being de-recognised following a decision by the Department of Health on the monitoring of overseas degrees.

The General Medical Council said it is “extremely disappointing” that ministers have refused to end its obligation to scrutinise UK medical degrees taught abroad. The regulator currently has to assure the quality of degrees provided by UK medical schools both here and abroad.

An increasing number of universities have started offering UK curricula overseas including Newcastle University which is due to open a campus in Malaysia.

A report in BMJ Careers says the GMC is now looking at ways of protecting UK-trained medical students in light of the DoH decision.

It’s feared the decision could cause problems because, for example, differences in healthcare provision means students overseas might not get the UK-equivalent experience in primary care and mental health expected by the GMC, and that could impact on accreditation across the whole degree course — including at the UK medical school.

The regulator has called on the DoH to act to prevent any negative knock-on effect for UK students.

The BMJ Careers report says the DoH insisted that GMC recognition of UK overseas campuses was crucial to their success. But ministers say they will consider amending the rule to ensure a UK medical school can be accredited separately from its overseas campus, thus protecting UK students from the possibility of their courses being de-recognised.