Education & Family

First UK private medical school opens with £36,000 fees

Stethoscope Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption UK students will be paying fees four times higher than at public universities

The UK's first private medical school has opened, with students paying annual tuition fees of £36,000.

The first intake of 67 students is beginning this term at the University of Buckingham.

Although the medical school was expected to particularly appeal to overseas students, most of the students are from the UK.

John Clapham, the school's chief operating officer, said he was "staggered" by the demand.

Medicine courses are often the most over-subscribed, with universities turning away thousands of applicants.

High demand

The University of Buckingham says that there seems to be such demand to study medicine that students and their families are willing to pay higher fees at the private university.

Image copyright Buckingham
Image caption The first intake of students at the private medical school will be arriving this week

Tuition fees at public universities in England are capped at £9,000 per year, but the UK students beginning at the new medical school will pay fees that are four times higher - with the total cost of the course more than £162,000.

About 60% of the students beginning this term are from the UK. The remainder are overseas students, who already face such uncapped fees at UK universities.

Overseas science students at Cambridge can pay £23,000 per year and medical students pay almost £36,500.

The course will last four and a half years and entry standards will be as rigorous as at other medical courses, says the University of Buckingham, which opened as the UK's first private university in the 1970s.

The training will include a mix of clinical and biomedical science teaching and will work with the Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Prof Clapham, chief operating officer at the University of Buckingham Medical School, said that he was "absolutely staggered" by the initial interest and said that demand was even higher for next year's entry.

There have been concerns about medical courses being too socially exclusive.

The Office for Fair Access says that only 4% of students beginning medicine or dentistry courses are from disadvantaged families.

Last autumn, the Medical Schools Council issued guidance on how universities could attract more applications from students from poorer families.

Prof Clapham said that he hoped that there would be bursaries available in the future for some students.

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