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Record numbers sign up to study medicine at British universities amid pandemic

By Eleanor Busby

Record numbers of would-be doctors have applied to study medicine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of people applying for a place on a university medicine course has increased by 21% compared to last year, Ucas figures show.

The deadline for applications to begin medicine next autumn, as well as dentistry and veterinary science courses, was on October 15.

This is also the deadline for students to apply for 2021 degree courses at Oxford and Cambridge.

Ucas figures show that 28,690 people have applied to study medicine in 2021, with increases in applicants from all four countries of the UK (a total of 23,220 UK applicants, up 26% on last year).

Applications from students outside of the EU for medicine courses have also risen, but applications from EU students have dropped by 15%, from 1,680 this time last year to 1,430.

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, said: “The inspirational work of the NHS, particularly during 2020, will have undoubtedly encouraged students to apply for medicine courses, and it’s heartening that so many want to be part of the recovery as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.”

Overall, 76,940 people have applied for all degree courses with an October 15 deadline, up 12% on last year, the admissions service added.

A record 2,800 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK have applied.

Meanwhile, international applicants from outside the EU have increased by 20% to 17,510, while EU applicants have fallen to 5,220, from 6,480 last year.

Ms Marchant added: “It’s great news to see students aim high and aspire to a future beyond the current limits of Covid with their choices for next year.

“The marked increase in students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds applying is especially welcome, particularly as universities are ready to use the contextual data available to them when considering applications.”

A Universities UK (UUK) spokesman said: “Despite the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic, the appetite to continue learning is stronger than ever across the UK, with individuals recognising the value of a university education.

“It is particularly pleasing to see the growth in applicants for medicine.”

(PA)