Coronavirus: Queen’s to admit 80 other medical students

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Queen’s University (QUB) is set to admit 80 more medical students after Stormont ministers agreed to fund the places.

This will mean that the number of students able to start studying to become doctors at the University of Belfast will increase by around 30% in two years.

However, 50 will not be able to start their studies until September 2021.

A previous review of medical institutions indicated that Northern Ireland needed at least 100 additional medical students per year to meet the growing demand for doctors.

In addition to the additional places at QUB, the University of Ulster (UU) is also recruiting 70 graduate students to begin a four-year medical course in 2021.

BBC News NI had previously revealed that Health Minister Robin Swann was seeking £ 18million from the executive to pay for increased academic places for medical students at QUB.

However, that £ 18million has been spread over several years, with most medical degrees lasting five years, followed by two years of basic training after students qualify as doctors.

Mr Swann was also seeking funding for around 40 additional nursing and midwifery places through QUB and UU.

Due to the changes in A-level results in 2020, more students had grades to allow them to study medicine.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy confirmed on Friday that the Department of Health will receive £ 530,000 for additional places in medicine, nursing and midwifery.

BBC News NI understands that this is the initial funding requested by Mr Swann to allow for the creation of additional places in 2020-2021.

However, Mr Murphy said the money for the additional seats will be confined in the years to come.

QUB will now be able to immediately admit 30 additional medical students.

Another 50 students will have to postpone their studies for a year, but will have a guaranteed place to study medicine in September 2021.

The Department of Health had previously funded around 230 places for new medical students at Queen’s each year.

80 additional places over two years will bring this number to more than 300 by September 2021.


Analysis: “Years before the physician shortage was solved”

While the £ 530,000 announced on Friday is only a fraction of the £ 18million Robin Swann is seeking for additional medical places, Conor Murphy said future funding for those places will be limited.

By the time many students now able to begin medical studies in 2020 and 2021 will be fully qualified by the end of the decade, £ 18million will likely be the total executive bill.

Queen’s University appears pleased that the funding is in place for the coming years.

This means that around 150 more students are expected to start training to become doctors by the end of 2021, as the University of Ulster’s medical school is also due to open next year.

But due to the time required to complete a medical degree, it will be several years before the additional places start to fill the shortage of doctors in Northern Ireland.


QUB welcomed the confirmation of funded places, saying; “This will ensure that all students who have now fulfilled the conditions of their offer can be accommodated and that next year’s applicants will not be unduly affected,”

“Unfortunately, we do not have the physical capacity to offer places for this academic year to all medical students who have now fulfilled the conditions of their offer.

Legend

Conor Murphy has confirmed that the Department of Health will receive £ 530,000 for additional places for doctors, nurses and midwives.


“Students who cannot be accommodated in 2020-2021 will receive an unconditional offer for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“All students who meet the conditions of their offer are contacted to clarify their year of entry as soon as possible. ”

Mr Swann praised “our universities for the essential work they do in helping to build a world-class workforce for our health service”.

Mr Murphy also said £ 3.2million was being made available to the Economics Department to fund places for other students who were achieving the required grades for university courses as a result of changes to A-Level results.

“While the university admissions process is still ongoing, the executive nonetheless wants to bring as much clarity and certainty as possible to our universities and our students,” he said.

“This is why we are committed to funding additional places that may be needed during the course of the course. “

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