Date Published: 7 April 2010

Parents facing hidden £15,000 bill to send their children to medical school, according to BMA report

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Some UK families are paying an average £3,123 a year – or an estimated £15,000 over a five year medical course – to get their children through medical school, according to a recent report by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The findings are contained in the BMA’s latest medical student finance report which surveyed 1,987 students across the UK about their finances. Key findings from the report include:

  • Two thirds of students are now relying on parental support while they study, with the average amount being given in a year standing at £3,123.
  • Over the five year medical degree this could result in an estimated hidden bill of £15,000 for families whose children want to become doctors.
  • Junior doctors who graduated in 2009 left medical school with an average debt of £22, 851 – up by a fifth since 2008.
  • The number of students entering medicine from low income groups remains poor, with just one in twenty medical students coming from the lowest two income groups.

Louise McMenemy, the BMA’s student finance lead, said:

The UK is facing a growing crisis in medical student finance that many policy makers appear unwilling to address.

Levels of medical graduate debt have grown by a fifth to more than £22,000 in just one year owing in part to the increasing burden of tuition fees, as well as rising accommodation and other costs. All students are facing rising debt levels, but those studying medicine are being hit particularly hard, partly as they are often not able to take part time work as their degree is more intensive and lengthy than other undergraduate programmes.

The expense of studying medicine now means that many families are facing what is effectively a hidden, unadvertised tax of around £3,000 a year – the average amount that parents currently have to give their children to get them through medical school. This equates to an estimated £15,000 over the five year medical degree course, a sum that many middle income, as well as low income families may find difficult to find during a time of recession, especially if they have other children who plan to go to university.

It is vital that these huge financial burdens are tackled, especially by the current higher education funding review, and not exacerbated by any further rise in tuition fees. This move would be a disaster, as we are already facing a situation where the NHS risks being denied the services of talented individuals with the ability, but not the bank balance, to get them through medical school.


Source: British Medical Association..

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