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Access to Medicine for BTEC Students

July 14, 2020
Access to Medicine for BTEC Students

I was recently approached by a teacher supporting an excellent BTEC student with accessing a Medical degree.  This is something I am extremely passionate about supporting, as a previous BTEC student myself, completing an Advanced Science BTEC GNVQ (worth 4 A Levels with my additional unit) back in 2000 (please do not do the maths to work out my age!). 

I was also a budding, aspiring medical student, frustrated that my choices into medicine were limited and ultimately chose to study Forensic Science; the next best thing to medicine as far as I am concerned. 

I have taken on the challenge to find this student with pathways to their desired career and share this with you all.

Medical school’s in the UK have a preference for A Level subjects, in particular for Chemistry, as it is deemed the most academically challenging subject of the science subjects, but why are BTEC qualifications so frowned upon? 

Medicine is of course, a very academic route, but it is also a course requiring transferable life skills and the ability to apply the practical side to the theory learnt, this is the beauty of the BTEC. 

Although viewed by some, to be not as challenging as A Levels, I found it catered to my individual learning style (Kinaesthetic/visual) and not only stretched me academically, but provided a wonderful balance of academia, practical assignments and crucial employability skills. 

Whilst I am not by any way belittling A Levels, I firmly believe BTEC science should have the same level playing field as A Levels.  In a society that embraces equality and individualism, it is strange to think that these qualifications are not deemed as equal, after all BTEC overall starred distinction is the same a 3 A Levels at A*, the main difference being the learning styles required to each qualification. 

With this in mind, I have made it a mission to find a way for BTEC students to find their own path to fulfil an aspiration in medicine.

Foundation/Gateway to Medicine Courses

These are usually Widening Access to Medicine (WAMS) courses, and include a foundation year of medicine, in essence it does add an additional year to the 5/6 year medical degree’s, but some of these foundation courses do factor BTEC student into their admissions policies, these are briefly outlined below, GCSE and entrance exam criteria still exist for these courses.

  • University of Leicester – (UCAS course code – A199 Institution code – L34)

Will Accept BTEC National Extended Diploma in Applied Science with DDD

  • University of Buckingham – (UCAS course code – 71A8 Institution Code – B90)

This is not a foundation course, and the degree is 4.5 years long.  Although BTEC is not mentioned specifically, the entry requirements listed on the medical school website is quoted as below.

In the case of applicants offering alternative secondary school qualifications, they should have or be expected to achieve qualifications at a level equivalent to A-level, and with a pattern of grades equivalent to ABB, including Chemistry or Biology at the most senior level studied.” 

This can be interpreted for BTEC students as DMM – but it is recommended to check with the admissions department prior to application. 

It is also worth noting that Buckingham Medical School is a non-for-profit independent university, with annual tuition fees being £37.5k. 

This course can be applied for both via UCAS and independent application through the website.

  • Edge Hill University – (UCAS course code – A110 Institution code – E42)

Will consider A Level / BTEC Combination: BB at A level and D in single BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma or National Award. BB at A level must be obtained in both Chemistry and Biology and D in BTEC Diploma. 

Students are also required to satisfy WAMS criteria, which include living in the North West of England, with GCSE’s completed at a non-selective state school with an attainment 8 data, unless students are in the local authority care system.

  • Norwich Medical School – (UCAS course code A104 – Institution code – E14)

Will consider any BTEC Level 3 Extended diploma (QCF) with a DDM in any subject excluding, Public Services, Uniformed Services and Business Administration.

  • Plymouth Medical School – (UCAS course code A102 – Institution code – P60)

Will consider BTEC National Extended Diploma with DDM with sufficient biology and another science content and all applications are considered on merit, UCAS tariff points of 120 and above are considered.  BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD weighs in at 144 tariff points.

  • Manchester Medical School – (UCAS course code – A104 Institution code – M20)

Will accept a combination of BTEC and A Level.  Will consider Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma with DDD and 1 A Level at Grade A (any subject) or Pearson BTEC National Diploma D*D with 1 A Level at Grade A (any subject).

  • Bristol Medical School – (UCAS code – A108 Institution code – B78)

Will consider BTEC Extended Diploma with a DMM in Applied Sciences, Medical Science or Health and Social Care (Science pathway) however, as a WAMS programme, students have to have attended a school that fits in line with specific school eligibility – students advised to check the admissions policy for specifics.

  • Keele University – (UCAS code A104 Institution code – K12)

Applications are welcome from BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM in Applied Science, Health and Social Care (Science pathway) and Sport and Exercise Science, BTEC National Diploma with DM and A Level at Grade B in either Chemistry or Biology, and BTEC Foundation Diploma with M and 2 A Levels at Grade B in Chemistry and Biology.

  • Lancaster Medical School – (UCAS code A104 Institution code – L14)

Students holding a BYEC Extended Diploma with DDD in Applied Science will be considered, if there is sufficient biology and chemistry content in the curriculum, students are encouraged to check with the admissions department prior to application submission.

In addition to Foundation and Gateway courses, students holding BTEC qualifications can register a fifth application on their UCAS application form, and another pathway to Medicine can be accessed through the fifth option in their application. 

Some non-medical courses have the ability for talented students to apply for a transfer directly onto medicine.

 This is not a guarantee of entrance to their desired course, as transfers are extremely competitive, and it is important to manage students’ expectations. 

In the worse case scenario that a student is not successful, they can still apply for a post graduate medicine course upon graduation from their fifth-choice course.

  • University of Leicester will consider transfers to medicine after successful completion of the first year in the following undergraduate degrees, Biological Science, Medical Biochemistry, Medical Genetics, Medical Physiology and Medical Microbiology. (Advise students to contact admissions office as it is unclear if A Level are taken into consideration)
  • Bradford University – currently have a transfer partnership with Leeds, but about to change to Sheffield University. Currently, under the Leeds partnership, there are 20 guaranteed places in both year 1 and 2 of the BSC Clinical Sciences undergraduate degree.  These transfers are decided on admissions officers reviewing the academic performances over 1 year for first year’s transfer requests and over 2 years for second year transfer requests.  With the new partnership coming up, it is worth students enquiring at Bradford Universities admissions office prior to application.
  • Manchester University – have approximately 10 places for students across the School of Biological Sciences – all degrees, but the top ten students with exceptional performance in the first year are able to transfer to medicine – the transfer is publicised internally and the application process is unclear after the publication.
  • St Georges University London – for students studying BSc Biomedical Science degree, students can apply in the second year for transfer straight onto the second year of Medicine on the condition that successful applicants complete their three years degree and meet conditions stipulated in their offer.

There is a final option for BTEC students, that they may not have considered.  Students can apply to Dentistry, which when it comes to BTEC qualifications, the dentistry schools are more progressive in their admissions and acceptance of BTEC qualifications. 

For students wanting to explore this option, they will still study medicine, disease and anatomy, which will gear them for a career, which will award them the title of Doctor, and allow graduating students to continue exploring careers in surgery and trauma, such as Oral and maxillofacial surgery. 

Graduate dental students also complete two years of foundation training in NHS hospitals and a degree in dentistry can give you varied career options within the NHS, private practice, and health education. 

It is still just as competitive to enter as medicine (1 in 10 applications result in offers still), but for BTEC students wishing to consider this pathway, there are more direct options open to them than medicine currently. 

Dental students can also still choose to complete a post graduate medical degree following graduation and harness a larger choice in career options. 

Although this is a lengthy journey into medicine, Oral and Maxillofacial surgery is a great career bridge between dentistry and Medicine, with many consultants working within NHS hospitals and completing a large portfolio of surgery.

  • University of Bristol – DDD in a medically related subject – some BTEC offers may ask for additional chemistry A Level (Grade A)
  • University of Manchester – DDD with additional A Level in Chemistry
  • Queens University – Belfast state they will consider applicants with BTEC and advised for students to contact admissions directly before applying.
  • University of Plymouth – Will consider BTEC students as applications are considered on individual basis, students are encouraged to contact the admissions department directly. There is also a note that BTEC students are considered as non-direct school leavers, so will need to sit the GAMSAT instead of UCAT or BMAT entrance exams.

As with Medicine courses, there are several Gateway/Foundation Dentistry courses which your students can look into in more detail, should this be a route they wish to consider.

To compile this information, all university admissions policies and entry requirements have been double checked to ensure accuracy, however, it is subject to change with each academic year. 

Entry requirements stated above are correct for academic year 2020/21.  For other entrance years, please encourage students to contact each admissions office directly prior to application.




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