Local state school students learn what it takes to be a doctor at Oxford

Oxford University is targeting state school students from Birmingham to help those considering applying for one of Oxford’s most competitive courses – Medicine.

For the first time on Saturday 21 July the University will host a day devoted to understanding the Medicine course at Oxford and for Year 11 students interested in studying Medicine at Oxford. The event is specifically targeted at non-selective state schools with little history of sending students to Oxford. Around 75 students are due to attend, along with many parents.

Students from Handsworth Wood Girls’ School and The Holly Hall Academy and their parents are among those taking part in the free one-day event.

The ‘Investigating Medicine’ day for 16-year-old year 11 students is part of the Pathways programme at Oxford, which provides free events offering information, advice and guidance on higher education and Oxford to bright students and staff in non-selective state schools that traditionally send few students to Oxford. The Medicine event is part of an ongoing series of events for students in years 10 and 11 at school (age 15-16).

Medicine is one of Oxford’s most over-subscribed courses, with nearly 10 applicants for every place on offer. Students from state schools in particular tend to apply in large numbers for Medicine, making it extremely competitive. ‘Investigating medicine’ is being held to make students who are interested in Medicine aware of what the process of applying for and studying Medicine at Oxford is about. It also aims to make students interested in the medical sciences aware of the wide range of opportunities academically and in career terms in related science courses.

Robert Wilkins, Tutor for Admissions in Biomedical Sciences at Oxford, who is one of the organisers of the event, says: ‘Medicine is one of the most popular and oversubscribed courses at Oxford, so we think it’s really important to give as much information and support to students from schools that have little history of sending students to Oxford. While it’s important to make sure students are able to separate myth from fact when it comes to admissions process for Medicine at Oxford, the event isn’t just about admissions, but studying at Oxford more generally, and studying medicine specifically.

‘For vocational courses like medicine finances and career goals can be a big part of deciding to apply – so  we want to make sure both students and their parents get a realistic view of what it’s like to study Medicine and work as a doctor. We also want to make sure students and parents coming to the event know that there is plenty of financial support for studying at Oxford, and that a medical course can mean career options beyond being a doctor in a hospital.’

Ivanhoe Leung did an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Oxford and is now a doctoral student at the University. He will be helping out at the day and says: ‘I was very lucky to have the support and encouragement from my school to apply to Oxford when I was in my sixth form; even then the interview was a very daunting experience.

‘Because the way of learning and the tutorial system in Oxford are very different from school (or indeed other Universities), I want to show perspective students how academic life is really like in Oxford, so that they can make an informed choice. It is also a great opportunity to meet current students, and hopefully we can demystify the application and interview process for them. Ultimately I hope no one will be put off from applying because they think they do not fit in certain stereotypical Oxbridge student image that the popular media portraits.’