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07 March 2022

The Monday Briefing: Goin' Places

The Monday Briefing: Goin Places

I’ve said on the blog before that my favourite day of the year in the role of Principal is always A Level results day - where we see the students for the last time before they move on to take up their university offers. Currently, students are being offered places, and the sense of excitement amongst them is palpable. 

Last week we had the tremendous news that Lara, an exceptional Year 13 student who has been with us since the beginning of her GCSE course, has received an offer of a place to study Medicine at St George’s University, and the College community has every reason to be proud of what she has accomplished.

Often, during interviews for places at the College, parents emphasise their desire for their son or daughter to become a doctor. The chances of actually making this happen are slim, but Lara has done so - and against extremely challenging odds.

Last year a record number of people applied to study Medicine (28,690) and this year that number is even higher. UCAS received 29,710 applications for 2022 entry Medicine overall, which is a 3.5% increase from last year. This can be largely attributed to a rise in reapplicants. According to the statistics, there are now 10,000 more people wanting to study Medicine than there were just five years ago. 5,710 people reapplied for Medicine this year, in comparison to 4,470 last year. That’s a 28% increase. It’s also more than double the number of reapplicants there were five years ago. In addition, there have been slightly fewer first-time applications for 2022 entry Medicine – 24,000 compared to 24,220 last year. The upshot is that, for a first-time applicant this year, they have had to compete against more reapplicants than ever before. These reapplicants might have taken a year out to complete more work experience, build on their personal statement, resit the UCAT or BMAT, or some exams – all with the end goal of improving their application.

With so many applicants meeting their offer requirements through the Teacher Assessed Grades system, the government raised its cap on Medicine places last year. This meant that more people than ever before were accepted into Medical School. The cap is expected to return to its normal level for 2022 entry, so although there is a new record number of applicants, there won’t be any extra places like there were last year. In addition to this, many successful applicants had to defer their entry last year, since even the extra places weren’t enough to cover them. These deferred applicants have their places guaranteed for 2022 entry. Taking this into consideration, that means that demand has outstripped supply significantly, and that Medicine has been more competitive than ever. Therefore, finding the edge to stand out amongst fierce competition has become all important.

Lara has always had that edge. A self-motivated, intelligent and committed student, she put herself in a position to be able to have a chance by satisfying a range of criteria: excellent GCSE results which resulted in a place on the ISA Whitbread Memorial Prize Roll of Honour; taking an EPQ early, thereby raising her UCAS points whilst having a key discussion point for interviews; taking advice from the extensive guidance given to ensure that her personal statement and interview preparation was at optimum level. She has, of course, been supported by the College to excel - but it is her own personal determination to succeed which has made it all become a reality for her. She must be very excited about the future - and she has every right to be.

One does not, however, need to be accepted onto a Medical course to be successful and there are a range of careers, not just as a doctor, to which young people should aspire to. Students at the College have received a range of offers from Russell Group universities like Warwick, Southampton, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle in courses as wide and varied as Physics with Nanotechnology, Psychology with child development and Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation and it was heartening to see a group of them attend a conference at Sherfield School, also part of Bellevue Education, entitled ‘Future Ready.’ This timely event undoubtedly whetted their appetites for the exciting time to come as undergraduates. The presentations which they were treated to during the conference were aimed at finding ways to help them make the best of the next few years.

Students were impressed with the keynote speaker, Matthew Griffin, who discussed the future of employment. They learned of opportunities beyond their courses through Camp America and were given indispensable advice on how to get the most from their university experiences by an undergraduate who recently attended Sherfield. A great deal of thanks must go to our hosts at Sherfield, and particularly to Head of Sixth Form Rebecca Seamark for her tremendous organisation in making it all happen. 

Having opportunities like this at the College takes our students out of their comfort zones, helps them to make new connections and broadens their horizons. It is my sincere hope that they have the wherewithal to make the most of this, and others which come.

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