Education news

Ulster University confirms major milestone reached in the development of graduate entry medical school

The new school, which will be based at the Magee campus in Derry, was due to admit students from 2019

A HISTORIC institution with 250 years experience training doctors is to share its expertise with a planned new medical school for Northern Ireland.

Ulster University (UU) announced it has agreed the medical curriculum from St George's, University of London will be taught at its graduate entry medical school.

To be based at the Magee campus in Derry, it was due to admit students from 2019, but this has been pushed back by at least a year due to the absence of an executive at Stormont.

It will become the second higher education medical facility in the north and it is hoped it will help address a workforce crisis that is more acute in hospitals and GP surgeries in the west.

UU said it had reached an agreement with St George's and had also appointed a foundation dean of its medical school.

The four year medical degree will widen access to medical training to address the skills and workforce challenges faced by the health care sector "needed to improve patient outcomes".

Vice chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon said the agreement with St George's was a major step forward in UU's commitment to addressing "the current health crisis by establishing a graduate entry medical school in the north west".

"Having appointed Professor Louise Dubras as foundation dean of the medical school and built plans for clinical placements across Northern Ireland, we are delighted to have secured this curriculum from St George's, as we prepare to educate capable, caring, professional future doctors for local healthcare," he said.

Paul Ratcliffe, Chief Operating Officer at St George's, said the institution had a long history of training doctors, dating back more than 250 years.

"Our graduate-entry medicine programme was one of the first in the UK and continues to be one of the few programmes that encourage non-science graduates, opening up medicine as a career option to many people," he said.

"We're enormously proud of the achievements of graduates from our programme and are delighted to be able to share our expertise and contribute to the next generation of doctors in Northern Ireland."

Following cross party political and industry wide support in 2016 for the school, UU said it had continued to proactively develop the project, planning to accept students from 2019.

It was hoped that student numbers at Magee would rise from an initial 60 trainee doctors to 120 students per year within five years of opening.

The Department of Health has confirmed, however, that any decision on funding could only be made by ministers and therefore the university is not in a position to recruit students for a 2019 intake.

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