Failed 1st year medicine

(245 Posts)
chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:04:07

I am so upset and just looking for a bit of support really. My dd worked desperately hard to get into uni to do medicine. She volunteered at a local old people's home, worked at the gps, worked at the hospital, etc. She got fantastic A levels: A*, A, A, B in general studies. She is a lovely girl, really home loving and plesant.

When she went off to uni she was sad and then started to really live it up, not working very hard. She failed an exam after christmas but apparently that 'didn't matter'. She then failed 5 exams in the summer and spent all summer revising for her resits, only to fail again. After the uni asked her to leave last week she told me that she hadn't been eating properly for about 6 months. She is 5ft 8 and 7st 10. She is like a stick insect and I have been very concerned about her extreme thinness, but she reassured me that she was fine. She said how she had difficulty concentrating when revising and couldn't remember things - does anorexia do this? We didn't submit mitigations before her exams because I wasn't aware that she wasn't eating and she thought she was fine. Could we appeal? Is it too late? The uni seem totally disinterested and couldn't care less.

I feel so upset. Getting her in was so difficult and now it seems she has lost everything. She is totally devastated. Thanks for reading.

belledechocchipcookie Sat 10-Sep-11 18:09:49

She'll be malnourished as she's anorexic, this will cause fatigue amongst other things. It would be a mitigating circumstance but only if the uni were aware of her illness before the exams. It sounds like she was struggling with the course and she needs some support with her illness before she does anything else. You need to take her to her GP first. She needs time to get as well as she can before she thinks of her next step. The university do have a duty of care, which they have failed by the sound of things but if they didn't know all of the facts then they couldn't have helped her. I'd help her with her illness first, then look for a different uni. She'll be as low as she can get right now, concentrate on her health and get her some support.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:19:54

We have booked at appointment at the GP this week. I am just reeling from the shock of her failing and then being told she has been eating near to nothing for so long. I can't believe it. Of course she will never now be able to do medicine and I think that this has been so hard for her as it is all she ever wanted so she is desperate to appeal, but I don't know how worthwhile that would be. thanks for your reply

Booboostoo Sat 10-Sep-11 18:24:38

The medical degree is incredibly stressful and does not suit all students, but it's usually very very hard for them to admit this even to themselves because they have worked so very hard to get there. Failing medicine is by no means the end of the world. She has fantastic A levels and she can go on to do another course and be happy. Can you relate these ideas back to her and see if you can get her to feel happy and proud of her achievements again rather than stressed about medicine?

Hope your GP can help a bit.

jenniec79 Sat 10-Sep-11 18:26:33

Not necessarily out of medicine for ever, but if the course has led to exacerbation of the eating disorder it may well not be the best for her in the long run - medicine as a career leads to a number of years fairly chaotic living and unpredictable eating patterns.

I'd start with GP regarding the eating disorder. Her health has to come first. Then she needs to speak to a tutor in her uni. Could she take a year out to get herself back on track then back to it in 2012? The university occupation health service should be able to help too.

Waswondering Sat 10-Sep-11 18:28:44

Does your university have a student support centre with disability advisers? (They should do!) Phone them first thing on Monday and see what they can do. Is there an option to repeat the year, or take a year out, get sorted, and start again? Do get help from them as if you have a diagnosis from a GP it may change the goal posts ....

.... but also, as others have said, she may be having a long hard think about if this is right for her.

Hope things look brighter for you both very soon, but do phone your student support office on Monday and see what they say (and they are used to getting calls from worried parents!).


Tempingmaniac Sat 10-Sep-11 18:31:47

OP, very sorry to hear about your dd, but it is great that she has now confided in you about what is going on and agreed to seek help. You might find this thread useful - not the same situation, but some of the advice from uni lecturers on there might be helpful.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:33:47

Thank you for your messages - you are all very kind. We went to the welfare officer at the uni and she wasn't very helptful just said that she would have to appeal but if mitigations weren't notified before the exams they probably wouldn'[t be interested. She also said that she would never be able to apply for medicine at any other uk university - so nice of her - my dd sobbed and sobbed. We couldn't have put the mitigations in because my dd didn't admit the eating problem until last week so how could we have told them? I feel so useless and want so much to help her. We asked about tranferring to another course and they just said - no we are full.

slightlyoversharing Sat 10-Sep-11 18:38:29

Chicken goujon - have pm'd you

kangers Sat 10-Sep-11 18:38:53

Really sorry for what I am about to tell you, but my colleague's daughter also studied medicine at Uni, also struggled with anorexia and in her LAST YEAR was found dead in her flat. The Uni had been neglectful of her condition bearing in mind she was in hospitals most of the time. The inquest is pending and my colleague has nothing but contempt for the uni.
Do not expect sympathy from them. Go with the flow, an alive, clever, happy daughter is better than a pressured,unhappy one.
I think anorexia is fairly common amongst medics as they are under immense pressure and have to be very disciplined to succeed. There is a GP at my surgery who is clearly anorexic (hairy down all over her etc) but she caries on as though nothing's wrong.
Let her recover and find another way.

elliott Sat 10-Sep-11 18:39:32

Gosh they sound spectacularly unhelpful. I wonder whether things have changed a lot since 'my day' - I have several contemporaries who failed first year medicine (and not with any mitigating health problems either, they just misjudged how hard they had to work) - they started the first year again and are now established and competent senior doctors. Is retaking the year not allowed any more? Is it because she failed by too big a margin? Would they accept a transfer to another course next year, once she has got better?

unitarian Sat 10-Sep-11 18:39:37

I assume she has no medical history of an eating disorder because she would have had to disclose it on her medical form before admission to the course. This will have been conditional on the enhanced CRB check, her exam results and her medical fitness, vaccinations etc. If she did have a problem before and didn't disclose it then she doesn't stand a chance at appeal. If she didn't have a problem before and the lack of nourishment is to do with anxiety then they would argue unsuitability anyway.

You need to try and get her back on her feet and consider an alternative career avenue when she is able to think straight.

My DD is also a first year medic and I feel for you and your DD.

kangers Sat 10-Sep-11 18:41:28

Not Leeds Medical school by any chance is it?

belledechocchipcookie Sat 10-Sep-11 18:42:00

There's no reason why she can't apply somewhere else, I'm not surprised dd was upset. I think she needs to take time off to recover as best as she can, then think about where she wants to go next. There are other careers that she can go into, medicine is incredibly stressful so she may find something similar but without the stress (chirporactors do a great job, more holistic and treat the whole person by looking at their symptoms, like medicine but without the drugs.)

Gastonladybird Sat 10-Sep-11 18:42:28

Am so sorry to hear about your daughter - fwiw my sister failed first year exams (also really bright but couldnt seem to pass as was a combination of not being quite sure about it and the skills required not bein ones she was good at).

She transferred to another course , did as masters in it and has had a successful career since. Her confidence did take a knock but she got over it and looking back it turned out to have given her another chance.

I know that the facts slightly different here but wanted to give you example of something where there was a successful and happy outcome .

If uni won't take her will any other take her (of not for

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 18:42:49

chicken, she's clearly ill but she really hasn't lost everything. It's important for her to know that to give her some light to get her through to the end of the anorexia tunnel. Poor thing, it's so often lovely girls who get it, they're too sensitive for their own good.

Anorexia completely does that, leads to a loss of concentration. My DD was just the same. Because girls with anorexia are often highly intelligent, this is disguised, because they function academically at a reasonable level, whereas if they had their concentration back they'd most likely excel.

I completely agree she needs medical help but in order to keep a door open I would ask for a meeting with the appropriate university authorities (personal/ moral tutor). It does sound as though they failed in their duty of care, on the other hand I expect she never sought help and may well not have recognised what was happening herself. The first university may not take her back but something should be put on her record for a subsequent reference: I'd strike while the iron is hot.

A medic friend of another DD had to leave Oxford after her first year with anorexia: they told her to go away and get better. It took two years but she's back, I think three years behind her original group. There was still a door open.

My DD had a very long very difficult time and got so thin it was hard to believe, though that was in Sixth Form. It was a long, long road. I thought she's lost all her chances, but she's now up at Oxford too.

There is always hope, she needs to know that, but she almost certainly can't get better without help. Make sure it's good help too, some areas are much better provided for than others.

I'm sorry for you both; good luck.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:48:01

Actually she didn't fail by a big margin - only 1 mark in 2 exams and 6 in another. I really think unis don't give a s***. And no it isn't Leeds, but it's a 'prestigious' uni.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 18:50:56

Gosh Kangers - that is terrible. Very sad indeed. I wondered if she felt pressure from me and her dad, but I don't think we pressured her. I have spent the past week analysing where I went wrong.

My dd is thin but I am hoping we have caught it soon enough. She has admitted it, which is the first step. She said that she would go to the drs but if she was prescribed fortisip (or whatever), she wasn't going to drink it. I am hoping the gp can help her in some way

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 18:53:48

Well then she did amazingly in the circumstances. Most students with creeping anorexia would have bombed each and every exam.

If she comes out of this realising medicine with all its pressures isn't for her, then fine, but there will be doors open and opportunities to start medicine all over again, she just has to be properly well.

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 18:57:38

I'm sorry to say it but that was exactly what DD said, the Fortisip thing. It's best to be prepared for the worst.

kangers Sat 10-Sep-11 19:01:12

Chicken- my colleagues wife is also a medic- it is nothing you have done.
Anoexia is a highly complex DISEASE with psychological and biological elements, and usually the sufferers are very sensitive and intelligent (as previous posters have alluded).
Do not blame yourself, but I am just saying that in the scheme of things forget about the course atm and focus on the health of your daughter only.
I am sure she can do something very fulfilling when she is BETTER.
Much love to you.

scottishmummy Sat 10-Sep-11 19:14:05

sorry for your dd troubles and mental and physical anguish. 1st prioritise mental and physical recovery,maybe pursue an ED referral, with community support. also look into what family support available for you too

medicine is demanding academically and professionally.and so v different to other courses,more lecture contact time,labs and tutorial.

take time for a recovery
anorexia is a complex psychiatric illness. affects physical and mental health and self esteem. i hope she can make a recovery

best wishes

Waswondering Sat 10-Sep-11 19:17:02

Please check if there's a disability adviser, not a welfare adviser. They are 2 very different roles .... I work in HE and our DAs work in a totally different way to the welfare people. The DAs will advocate as much as they can for the student. Does your student have an Adviser/Regent too that you can talk to?

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 19:49:39

Waswondering - I don't know. What's difficult as well is that we don't live close by so have to travel each time. Dd doesn't seem to know anything about the uni, she said that at the start they mentioned that she had a personal tutor, but she hasn't ever seen him. Don't they do tutorials? I had them termly when I was at uni. We saw a welfare person at the medschool and she seemed very harsh. We couldn'[t have told them that she had an eating disorder because I don't think she knew she had one. It's difficult. On the one hand I don't want her to carry on with all the stress, but on the other she has been focussed for so long on doing the degree that she can't see another way forward. I think we will have to appeal although I don't know if it is worth bothering as they are so unsympathetic.

chickengoujon Sat 10-Sep-11 19:50:19

and thank you for all your constructive help. At least I have stopped crying now and started to feel a bit more angry about it - that's a move forward for me!!

Waswondering Sat 10-Sep-11 20:06:23

Chicken - can you pm the institution and I'll dig about for you ....

Appleby Sat 10-Sep-11 22:22:44

chicken don't cry. The welfare officer sounds completely pointless, I'd be furious. The thought of your DD sobbing and sobbing is awful. She's bound to be at rock bottom, what she really doesn't need is a git telling her stuff which is simply untrue: her ambitions needn't be over, not at all.

FWIW I had to fight like a tiger when the fairly-out-of-their-depth doctors were saying my own DD's anorexia must be pressure induced. This was on the basis of her grades, which were flawless. The school told them to stuff off: her grades weren't the product of pressure, either self-induced or externally induced, she was simply clever. She needed to hang on to the idea that she had something to aim for still and that kept her going, at least once she could see the wood not just trees. I'm sure that for some girls, re-evaluating what you want and shifting down a gear may be the key. But under-achieving because you've slipped into an illness may ultimately create a negative pressure all of its own. Anyhow, I fought and a different group of specialist doctors agreed.

If I can be of help as a mum of a DD whose been through it (and a shadow still lurks), do message me please.

Booboostoo Sun 11-Sep-11 10:28:48

I say this with 15 years experience as a Uni lecturer (some of it in a medical school): if your daughter wants to go back, appeal and threaten to sue the university for not recognising her problem and helping her. I will eat my foot if they don't back down and let her do whatever she wants! I have seen appeals upheld on the most ridiculous grounds rathat than risk bad publicity/litigation, and you have a good case.

Having said that, I would encourage your daughter to take some time out and consider whether medicine is truly for her. Drop out rates for medicine are massive (on average 10%) and as a profession it has one of the highest rates of suicide nad depression. Many of the kids I saw in the medical school had gone from one academic super achievement to another without stoping to think if they REALLY WANTED to be in medicine or if it was just the next highest academic achievement they were due to conquer!

Personal tutors in medical schools tend to be doctors who have absolutely no time to see students and deal with pastoral issues. As a result large numbers of students fall through the cracks. Tutorials discuss academic topics, not pastoral care issues. Students should really see their personal tutor at least once a term, although for every personal tutor who cannot be bothered there are about 50 students who couldn't care less and never turn up...doesn't help those who need help though.

scottishmummy Sun 11-Sep-11 11:47:28

i dont think you can so emphatically assert the uni will reconsider etc

certainly encourage op and her daughter to vociferously appeal,but they need to allow for may not go their way.

a professional vocational course like medicine needs to be assured student mental and physical health are robust enough to meet demands of the course and clinical work too. That needs to be the priority at moment. medicine is different to other undergrad degree- and demands other qualities both personal and academic

Booboostoo Sun 11-Sep-11 14:58:50

scottishmummy if that was addressed at me, I can assure you I can. 10 years as a student and 15 as a lecturer, I can assure you that any Uni will take the 'soft' option of letting the student re-register (after all it's just more money for them) rather than the risk of litigation. Personally I don't think the risk of litigation is actually that real but Unis behave as if millions are handed out in compensation to students on a daily basis. They will back down even in completely ridiculous circumstances and the OP's daughter's case is nowhere near a lost cause anyway.

mumof3teens Sun 11-Sep-11 15:24:28

I was just going to say the same as Booboostoo - if she still wants to carry on and do medicine I would be surprised if they would not let her have a chance to retake the year. She sounds as though she could perhaps do with a year out and to restart the course again. DS1 has just graduated from med school and DS2 is a Dentistry student and they have both told me about students who have been allowed to do this (they are at different Uni's). I wish your DD all the very best in her recovery and for the future.

Waswondering Sun 11-Sep-11 15:34:58

The other thing to do is to see if they have regulations or an academic quality handbook on the website - that'll give you what the rules and regs are re illness/resitting etc. Then you can do a wee bit of homework and be forearmed.

I do think that your experience with the welfare officer sounds underwhelming, and I'm sorry that your dd was left with the impression it's a hopeless situation ..... it isn't, but you need someone to sit down and tell you what all the options are, eg, year out, restart course; year out, transfer to other course; transfer to other course immediately (maybe a biomedically type course that could maybe give her the opportunity to do a grad medicine course 3y down the line); and so on. If they won't allow her to continue with medicine they will hopefully give some advice about "plan bs". IME unis don't like students withdrawing or leaving as it has to be returned in the stats and they want as many students as possible to have some sort of returnable "success" iyswim.

I know (personally) of a couple of people who repeated years at med school - one due to illhealth, one due to messing around. One of these decided med wasn't for them, their own choice after a repeat, and is now v happy ... the other repeated and started winning prizes all the way through.

I think for your dd she really needs to know what her options are .... hope you get some answer soon.

scottishmummy Sun 11-Sep-11 20:20:40

resuming studies will likely be dependent upon maintain and sustain adequate weight and assessment of ability to cope with the mental demands of the course. that will involve time out

prioritise physical and mental health. when the anorexia resolved then resume is possible with support to resume and qualify

funnyperson Sun 11-Sep-11 20:20:57

This is a difficult problem.

As I see it, your DD is ill and the illness wasn't diagnosed till very recently.
Her and your priority will be for her to get better as anorexia is a very serious illness and she will need help for a period of time.

I would

Get a doctors report confirming the diagnosis and the timing of a) symptoms and b) the diagnosis and c) the treatment plan

Then appeal and ask for her place at medical school to be saved for when she is better- she can always repeat the first year

Your DD is bright enough to complete the course when she is better, or at least to do a BSc at the same uni without having to reapply.

Completing the course doesn't mean she has to then go into clinical medicine. She could choose a less demanding non clinical option for a career. The General Medical Council and medical school will need to be sure she is well enough for clinical aspects of the course-usually the last 2 years, though this varies between medical schools.

scottishmummy Sun 11-Sep-11 20:36:36

op take look at student fitness to practise guidelines

uni requirement is demonstrate fitness to practice - if fitness to practise is attained can resume

GrendelsMum Mon 12-Sep-11 17:48:46

I work in science education, and my colleagues and I see a lot of very talented young people go to study medicine, when there are so many other courses and professions that will be every bit (or more) as valuable to humanity, need every bit as much intelligence, and which may frankly be an awful lot more enjoyable, especially in the early career stage. There are scientists working on medicine, on finding new sources of fuels, on saving millions of people from starvation... the opportunities for your daughter are endless. Please do reassure her that her options are still as wide open as ever they were, and there are no less ambitious targets for her to conquer, if she wants to take on these new challenges.

I do think that the life style of young doctors is conducive to eating disorders, and I suspect that a fair amount of this is normalised in the profession.

scottishmummy Mon 12-Sep-11 20:01:28

you think a psychiatric disorder is normalised in profession?
frankly that's a bold and unsustainable assertion

chickengoujon Mon 12-Sep-11 20:40:19

Thank you all for your kind messages of support.

She has decided to appeal, particularly as she is so borderline and worked so hard to get in. We are going to the GPs about her eating problems and he will, hopefully, be able to suggest some strategies for her to cope a bit better. At least we know now and it is all out in the open. I think she feels a sense of relief that she told someone. Fingers crossed that it all works out well in the end.

scottishmummy Mon 12-Sep-11 20:42:22

best wishes,do look at fitness to practice links and with robust support and time to recover she can resume her career.

Chicken.. only just seen this and just wanted to send some un MN ,<hugs>

My daughter has just finished her first year of med school.. and while she passed by some miracle, she came home weighing 6 stone 1(she's 5 ft 8) ..she was 8 + stone when she started there. Like your daughter she was a high achiever at A level, but the stress, homesickness, bullying in her hall of residence ..well it all combined to make her control the only thing she had left.. food.

We were lucky in that the GP was fab and got us help pretty quickly..her BMI was 13.9 so she was pretty much hospitalizable. It's been a rough 3 months at home but she has made massive progress through sheer determination.. the earlier help starts, the better the outlook.

My DD's uni DOES allow first years who fail, to resit the year if the grades were borderline.. one of her friends is going to restart next week! I would be surprised if there isn't a similar option , especially with your daughter having medical reasons.

My DD also found her concentration was shot.. she just couldn't focus well at all.. or sleep.. I think her body was just too busy trying to stay alive sad Once she is heavier her brain will work better again.

Wishing you, and your DD, all the best!

kritur Tue 13-Sep-11 21:06:36

I know you say that medicine is all she has focused on but I think she may be better off out of medicine for the immediate future at least. She should be able to transfer to a biological science degree, finish that and then when her health is better go onto medicine as a graduate. Medicine is a tough degree, not necessarily intellectually but physically far more than many other degrees. Recovering from anorexia is a long and slow process and there is no guarantee if she is readmitted to 1st year that she will manage to complete the year. She needs to focus on her health and get well. I would suggest she would be better at a uni closer to home as well.

funnyperson Wed 14-Sep-11 22:02:00

Grendelsmum what is the evidence for your terrible assertion?

GrendelsMum Thu 15-Sep-11 10:13:17

I apologise for having upset people by my post, and I'm more than happy and relieved to accept that I and my friends have extrapolated too far from what were probably isolated incidents, or amongst people who were in a situation that they found particularly difficult and reacted to those stresses in a way that is not uncommon in women of their age.

I'm happy to ask for my post to be removed if that would be preferred?

mezza123 Tue 11-Oct-11 22:47:06

Many years ago (2003!) I too failed my first year medicine exams and my resits and was chucked out of uni (UCL). I had no mitigating circumstances apart from laziness, but I did appeal, with the help of the student union people (useless) and also a law student boyfriend. As I understood it, the year was far too big and the idea is that a certain % will fail their exams, thus helping to get the 2nd year down to the size it's meant to be. For that reason I think unis are fairly harsh about resitting the first year and don't really allow it any more (that might be cr*p though). I am now considering applying again to graduate entry medicine, and although there are a few that don't allow it, there are some that do so it's not impossible. Those that do allow it seem to be the ones that use UKCAT or GAMSAT for graduates. The other option is going abroad, and with the increasing costs here, that might not be a bad option.
But anyway if your dd gets her health sorted out and wants to carry on now, appealing is probably the better option and I would pull out the big guns too, I wish I had done as it would be easier than applying now with 'failure' on my record!! Good luck to your dd.

mags2024 Wed 19-Oct-11 19:46:19

Sort out her health - without that she will not get anywhere.
Take timeout to recharge batteries and self esteem. prove to her the world has not stopped turning.
Do degree - physiology / biology/ psychology etc or an academic subject she enjoys. Get a good degree - get life back in perspective - go back to hobbies - need to be rounded. Sport /dance great destressors.
Apply for a post graduate medical course if still her wish to do
my son did his 1st degree at southampton (Biology) and one of his flatmates dropped out of medicine. my godson did the same thing and 2 of son's girlfriends house mates have left afterthe second year. All these people have one thing in common - worked hard for a levels - straight to medical school. Personally l think medicine / dentistry should be post graduate.
For what its worth we are both in medicine. Up until 18 he was going to play cricket for England. Got a place to do sports Science and realised although he was good at cricket he wasn't exceptional ( for a while his life collapsed )- decided to do Biology - ment he had options as he didn't know what he wanted to do as sport had been his life. Took a gap year and learn't a language- German. He had worked for MIND as volunteer since school and sso did a 6 week placement in the German equivelent. Boned up for GAMSAT & UKCAT. Got offers fro Imperial Colledge and Swansea. He has chosen the latter as he feel it is a better post grad course.
My son couldn't read and write at 8 and if it had been left to his state primary school he would be stacking shelves in Tesco ( not that here is anything wrong in that ) or the wrong side of the law. We had the resourses to get the right help and support him. There were times when l thought hewould never make it to 6th form let alone uni. It was carrot and stick.
You know your daughter is bright. In her present mental state she may lurch from year to year just passing or may suddenly do well. However the real stress test is when she qualifies - and it is unrelenting. So she needs the support and love to come to terms with her illness / problems. Then plan the next step by step. She can get back on track - needs space and time
Good luck - bottom line there is more to life than medicine.

funnyperson Thu 10-Nov-11 18:26:56

How are things with you and your dd?

peteneras Thu 10-Nov-11 21:31:43

I sincerely hope OP and DD are able to pick themselves up again and take some positive steps towards the right direction.

I'd like to thank OP for starting this thread and I've shown my DS the first few pages just before he entered medical school in September to warn him about the danger of complacency just because he succeeded in getting into medical school in last year's exceptionally tough competition.

This evening he rang and said they had a test last week and the results were made known this week and many had failed the test. He passed.

LadySybil Thu 10-Nov-11 21:35:54

at many places the bottom five percent are always failed. no matter how well they do. Its competitive and you need to ensure you stay above the bottom five sometimes ten percent. its sad, and it sucks, but do you really want incompetent doctors?

having said all that, if she did well enough to get in once, then she can go back to medicine once she has sorted her health out. she's obviously capable, and one failure in life doesnt mean we have failed the entirety of it all.

Mazaraz Sat 30-Jun-12 18:37:20

Hi there-I'm new to this but had to join after reading this thread. I was really upset and could totally empathise with chicken goujon's situation-my daughter failed first year med school and we have had a totally horrendous year. My faith in the higher education system has been totally destroyed-not tomention my poor daughter's confidence and self esteem. I know he last post was some months ago-but was just wondering how her daughter is now? Mine is still hell bent on doing Medicine despite her heartless treatment by this particular University. Please anynews???

Yellowtip Sat 30-Jun-12 22:31:53

You almost certainly won't want to say which university Mazaraz, but in what way was your daughter treated heartlessly? I've been surprised by stories of large scale fails at one particular university which apparently takes on far more first years than it can put through. That seems immoral. I don't know that it's true, but I've heard it from several sources now. DS1 is starting in October but thankfully hasn't had to sign up to the university in question.

funnyperson Sat 30-Jun-12 22:43:37

I think we ought to name and shame universities with high failure rates.

Yellowtip..which Uni?

I know this thread is old..I posted on it a year ago when my DD1 came home from her 1st year a 6 stone anorexic. A ray of hope maybe for those currently struggling.. she got help, went back, now has great friends, had a great year and is a normal weight again,(tho her relationship with food is still difficult). She is waiting for her results but appears to have done really well this year and will be back in September for the start if her 3rd year..clinical and very exciting.

We enlisted every bit of possible support from Uni, took a while but she got there..

I don't think anyone is made aware how bloody tough medicine is... it's such a stress to get a place but that is just the start :/

funnyperson Sun 01-Jul-12 06:40:43

medusawithbadhair (love the name) What a great ending. Well done to you and your dd and to those who helped her, for turning her life around. smile

Mazaraz Sun 01-Jul-12 09:28:50

I would really rather not say which Uni as my daughter will be returning in Sept to do another degree there- she preferred not to go another Uni as she had made good friends in her first year and chose to live with them last year pending the appeal. Her appeal was, as far as we were concerned, a solid one. She had suffered the bereavement of two close friends during her studies- but under great pressure from me and her Dad - took virtually no time off as we were concerned that this would have a detrimental affect on her studies- if only we had known. Her course supervisor was 100% behind her appeal- in fact she was the one that suggested it. However, because we did not submit extenuating circumstances at the time that she sat the exams, all of the documentation from doctors etc regarding her mental state were disregarded. I feel now that she was always one of the bottom5% in her year( as mentioned by another person earlier) and was going to fail whatever. She failed by1.4. % in both the final exam and resit- but passed the massive Anatomy exam and the other 10 units needed to complete the other 2 thirds of the course. It really has destroyed her confidence- all of the hours of study, voluntary work etc to get in to med school counts for nothing. I feel so sorry for her

chickengoujon Mon 02-Jul-12 18:23:18

Please don't despair as there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. My dd got herself a job at a fantastic company (which you will have heard of) and they are paying for her to do her professional qualifications. I honestly don't know how she has managed to do so well for herself.

Medicine is so stressful. One of dds friends has just failed her 2nd year which is just unbelievable and so stressful for her. I think my dd is glad to be out of it all now, although it was devastating at the time and really knocked her confidence. It's lovely to see how much she has blossomed since she started work. I think when you are in there, doing it, it is difficult to see another path in your life, but there is another way. If you asked my dd, she would say that failing was devastating at the time, but she is glad that it happened now, as she has shoes, handbags and make up galore and no debt.

I know now that the university she was at has a very high failure rate but I don't know if I am willing to put my head above the parapet and name it. I would have to think about that one. Getting into medschool is just the start and the number of failures is incredible - together with those resitting a year or sitting externally. Some people have got back in by lying and cheating, whereas we were just honest and it didn't work. I am just relieved it all worked out well.

chickengoujon Mon 02-Jul-12 19:59:04

And I just wanted to add that she seems to have completely got over her anorexia as she has just stuffed her face with a box of Roses. I think it must have been the stress of it all.

Yellowtip Mon 02-Jul-12 22:05:18

chicken I'm very glad to hear how things have turned out and especially glad that she's well.

I agree with funny that it would be helpful to applicants to know which universities have a high failure rate. My understanding is that Birmingham's is high, but that's based on drawing together anecdotal evidence rather than evidenced by stats.

Mazaraz Thu 05-Jul-12 19:54:49

I'm so pleased chicken that everything has worked out so well for your dd. It has just reaffirmed my belief that although the initial upset was awful for my daughter - there is life away from med school! this is something that she has discovered this year and she seems to be getting over the very distressing time. Hopefully she will do well on her return to Uni ( although she is quite scared of doing exams now, whereas she was never like this before med school) and just enjoy her Uni experience rather than dreading the e mails regarding exams - always on a Monday evening!!!! Guaranteed to put you off your dinner!

beemail Tue 24-Jul-12 21:46:46

Funnyperson I do agree it would be really helpful to have clue about which have high failure rates. Is anyone prepared to give a hint about this?

Acepuppets Wed 25-Jul-12 11:51:29

I just wanted to say that failing her first year will turn out to be a blessing when you look back in the future. She may be suffering a career set back at the moment but not having the pressure of studying will give her the chance to get better and then she will be able to move on. I know that it isn't as simple as just being positive but she is safe with you now. I wish you all the best for the future and it will get better.

mirry2 Wed 25-Jul-12 12:01:34

Al is not lost. Your dd can take a year or two out and start again. Or do a natural science degree and then apply to do medicine (in 5 years instead of 6, I think) Lots of medics go down this route now.

mathanxiety Sat 25-Aug-12 18:01:26

As far as retention rates for universities go -- I think you can guess from the selectivity of universities and the thoroughness of their admissions process whether students are going to be retained into their second year and beyond. Universities with very mixed intake are more likely to have higher loss rates.

Here are some retention stats but sorry in advance -- I haven't read them -- they may or may not be informative. Hefce is the institution that monitors retention and outcomes among other elements of third level ed.

mathanxiety Sat 25-Aug-12 18:02:34

Higher Education Statistics Agency is the provider of stats..

Stressedmumhelp Tue 04-Sep-12 16:10:01

I'm glad I found this page as I am another worried mum. My son has just failed one resit by a very narrow margin yet despite passing everything else he has been thrown out of medical school at the end of year two. There is no option to retake the year. Medicine is the most harsh course with absolutely no support at any stage. As a mum it is very hard being left to pick up the pieces of failed dreams. I think we have a tough time ahead and I have no idea where to begin.
Somehow I suspect other mums are facing the same.

peteneras Tue 04-Sep-12 23:24:04

I know of one individual who was “kicked out” of medical school after having failed the fifth year and therefore, has absolutely nothing to show in spite of having passed the previous four years. It’s as brutal as that. Anyone else wanting to read medicine at university?

Sometime in May of this year, DS panicked in the midst of his revision for first year exams. For the first time ever, he was talking about failure. I’ve never ever known him to be like that throughout his entire school days - taking and passing exams were like a walk in the park to him - but now he was sounding us out in preparation for failure! His complaint was he couldn’t absorb anymore; there’s “so very much to learn and remember” and God forbids, “I can’t remember anything that I’ve learnt!” sad

He sat the exams and immediately disappeared into the other side of the world not wanting to know anymore.

chickengoujon Sat 08-Sep-12 22:10:35

Oh my goodness that is so terrible and I feel very sorry for you and your son. I bet he is devastated. I have thought quite a bit about saying which uni my dd went to and I think people need to know that it's name starts with a B and ends in an m. I really wouldn't recommend it for medicine. She didn't even know that she had a Personal tutor. The support for these young people is abysmal. Big hugs Stressed Mum. I have been there and it does get better xx

mumof3teens Sun 09-Sep-12 20:22:11

I have heard of cases at that Uni chicken. My DS2 went to school with 2 people who went there for Med and didn't get beyond the first yr.

Booboostoo Sun 09-Sep-12 21:48:45

chickengoujon I am so pleased for your DD!!!

Medicine has a large drop out rate in all Unis, it's kind of expected because the assumption is that it is a really tough degree that prepares you for a really tough job so it's best to drop out early than later on. My personal view is that pastoral support is rubbish in the medical schools I have known. Large numbers of students are allocated to doctors (up to 15 students per doctor). The doctors are quite overworked and some resent the teaching duties they see dumped on them - pastoral care is one of the first things out of the window. Of course not everyone is like that, but I think the general attitude is you either sink or swim on your own in medical school.

Stressedmumhelp Wed 12-Sep-12 17:51:51

Life is a struggle.
My son is still struggling with coming to terms of being thrown out due to a single exam failure by just 2%. What was even crueller was that they made him attend a week of year three before telling him. Hence we also have huge financial costs due to accommodation and a new lease etc.
It has all been a nightmare and the uni were especially unkind in the way they acted and were very clear that our son is simply a statistic to them.
I hope this doesn't happen to anyone else. It would be easier to deal with he hadn't had to say bye bye to his friends after he had started the work of year three and he was doing well in everything else.
The medical school begins with 'b'

Stressedmumhelp Wed 12-Sep-12 21:42:30

Thank you for your good wishes chickenguojon - i totally agree about the lack of any support or even basic welfare given to the med students. I don't suppose it will ever change at uni's starting with a 'b' and ending in 'm' or an 's'
I hope your daughter continues to mend and I take hope from all the others posting too.

Yellowtip Wed 12-Sep-12 22:14:46

Another one who has come across this too. It's as well that students know, when making their decisons about applications and acceptances. These students are much more than mere statistics. I'm so sorry for him Smh. If this reputation is ill-deserved then the university in question should do something to counter it. Best of luck to him; it's shoddy beyond belief.

Mazaraz Fri 14-Sep-12 00:59:59

I feel so sorry for your son smh-how harsh was that uni for allowing him to start the 3rd year? As i posted earlier, my dd is returning to uni to do a straight Science degree now. Whilst she is glad to be back in the education system, she is very nervous of doing exams. As a teacher, i have to be very careful of the advice I now give to students about their choice of course/ uni as my opinion of certain unis and definitelymy opinion of med courses has been completely tarnished by her experience. I hope that your son is ok after this really horrid time. Our experience of speaking to numerous members of the undergraduate teaching staff in our dd med school is that they couldnt give two hoots for the welfare of the students- hard to accept at the time but it seems this is the case in many other unis. Good luck to your son for the future

chickengoujon Fri 14-Sep-12 11:28:11

I think a lot of kids feel that if they are able to get really high grades, then medicine is the way to go - know my dd thought this. Having been out in the real world, she can now see that medicine is just one career path and there are others which are much more lucrative, less stressful and have much better working hours and conditions. They also don't seem to have the 'rite of passage' element that medicine has.

I feel it is important for students to realise that getting in is just one hurdle and there were many others who failed their first year, and others that have now failed their second (some of dds friends).

I too hope that your son is getting over his disappointment. It's a big world out there and there are so many opportunities for people with the excellent exam results that your son has. My dd really hasn't looked back - she is loving life with a good salary coming in every month.

fiftysomething12 Sun 08-Sep-13 13:38:34

Am so grateful for finding this thread - ds has just been "excluded" - the polite euphemism........ from medical school after failing a first year resit. I must be the only stupid mother out there who thought that somehow failing a resit in medicine meant you just had to repeat the year. I knew one of his friends was doing this, but didn't know that the friend had got his appeal in before the resits started!
ds had done very well and was heading for an honours pass, got over confident and didn't work hard enough for the exam or the resit. Both fails were by a very small margin. A first girlfriend behaving badly didn't help either. I was so relieved to read other's experiences and to find I'm not the only one devastated by this news. Uni has so far not been any help whatsoever. Pastoral care is a joke but with something close to 40000 students I guess I shouldn't expect anything more. Medics mostly very hard boiled in my opinion.
However I guess it's different for us as ds doesn't want to go on with any form of science degree. He actually said that all along he wondered if he was good enough to get through the science part of the course. Confidence now at rock bottom and he worries about starting somewhere else - this happening at this late stage is also part of the nightmare. I agree with the comment above that medicine really should be post grad if that were possible.
Can't say too often that this thread has been a life saver for me. Hope all the other young people mentioned are now doing well

JGBMum Mon 09-Sep-13 07:32:48

Fifty something. Sorry to read your news.
I am shocked to hear how badly medical schools treat their students.

chemenger Mon 09-Sep-13 08:01:31

Assuming that the system is similar to the one I am familiar with, when writing your appeal it will be important firstly to establish why the mitigating circumstances were not disclosed at the appropriate time - before the results were known. If you can do this convincingly then they should consider the circumstances and reconsider the outcome. If they don't think there is good reason not to have declared the problem at the appropriate time the actual circumstances will probably not be considered. You need to avoid any implication that your daughter decided not reveal her problems, emphasise that she did not realise she had a medical condition. You will need good third party medical or counselling evidence to back this up. Illness causing a slow decline of capability is a legitimate reason for not declaring in a timely way because it is hard to spot until something dramatic happens. Evidence from parents is not usually considered strong but a clear, unemotional statement of the facts is helpful.

Bamboobambino Mon 09-Sep-13 11:39:58

Chicken is very wise.
Medicine is no longer a good career anyway, and better to be well out of it IMHO

summertimeandthelivingiseasy Thu 12-Sep-13 13:51:41

Interesting read.

My son has been kicked out of uni at the end of 2nd year. He has already resat a 1st year, after a tortuous appeal process. There has been no support in all the time he has been there, not even a pointing in the direction of services available. It was certainly not like this at university when I was there.

I think the cold facelessness of it all has been quite shocking.

I have a daughter at another university who has suffered badly socially, despite being a happy gregarious person all the way through school. She was allocated accommodation with a large number of badly behaved boys. The classes/lectures are very large, and include may doing it as a 3rd subject for the first year, so she has found it difficult to make friends there too. She eventually moved out and is building up her social life elsewhere, but it really knocked her confidence.

Other daughter is doing a very high stress hard work degree in a smaller school within another university. The staff are highly motivated, keen, encouraging, as are the older students, and it is a socially tight knit school. A lot drop out and move to other things as it is constant hard work. They do seem to be very human though and daughter is very happy there.

We will have to figure out what approach to take with DS and how to pick up the pieces, as we have only just found out. I think he has some development issues that need addressing which have become clear through this but I expect it will be hard to get help now he is 'adult'. Thanks for the posts - it has been interesting.

78bunion Thu 12-Sep-13 14:52:56

Good luck on any appeal. If successful she may be able to redo the first year. Consider if there are experts in university appeals you can pay to help too.
Also her health is the most important thing of all. Under 8 stone and nearly 6 foot is very underweight. She needs to get up to 9 stone at least. As she's a medic she will know as well as anyone how important being a healthy weight is. If she has anorexia it is very hard to treat. However it is possible. We know someone who had it at school and it did get better during her medicine course at Cambridge and she seems to be fine now.

Musicaltheatremum Thu 12-Sep-13 23:01:02

As a medic myself I find it very worrying that people force their children into medicine just because they get straight As. I would hate to be starting off now. The hospital jobs are awful. You may work fewer hours but you cover more patients and the advent of clinical nurse specialists means that a junior doctor is often only doing paperwork not seeing patients which they need to do.
My son wanted to do medicine but had to drop highers due to his dad dying 8 weeks before his exams. I am actually quite relieved. I think he looked at medicine through rose coloured spectacles because I work in a lovely GP practice and it is a great atmosphere.
There are no consultant posts available in some specialities. If you want to get married even if you give 8 months notice there is no guarantee you will get time off for wedding and honeymoon. It's awful.
Don't go there.

Candlefire Fri 13-Sep-13 21:42:56

Comments like this make me sad. My DS is in 4th year medicine and loves it. No one forced him to do it and he was not a straight A student.

Most people are quite jaded about their careers after a certain point and doctors are no exception. I know it won't be easy for him, but there is nothing else he would rather be doing.

pastitall Sat 14-Sep-13 14:39:21

I think the best thing for students is to do varied work experience to give them an insight into what medicine really entails , it is super rewarding but exhausting and very stressful too . Out of the three work experience students I had this year 2 decided to do other careers after experiencing the realities of the job.
The real sadness is the poor career advice sixth formers receive so they tend to apply to the better known career pathways eg Law or Medicine when some of them may have been happier in another career.

Candlefire Sat 14-Sep-13 16:44:05

Agree -- it is also important to be offered very early clinical exposure in the first year of med school. Not all universities do this.

nameuschangeus Sat 14-Sep-13 16:55:46

I just wanted to say to anyone who is having trouble, or whose children are having trouble, to seek out the student union's advice and well being services. They are independent of the university and they often have enough clout to sway decisions, especially decisions that may have been made too <ahem> hastily by the university.

fiftysomething12 Sat 14-Sep-13 20:05:37

Many thanks to all who posted. DS went and spoke to the history dept at the same uni and they are more than happy to take him - he does have 3 A passes and thankfully one of them was religious studies which is considered a relevant discipline. While relieved it has been settled, it doesn't alter the fact that it's been a bit of a torrid time for the whole family.

DS was not a natural scientist; he worked at subjects he didn't much like to get the entrance qualifications. He is good at essay based stuff and will probably be much more suited to history. MUST STRESS that there was no parental pressure here. We would have been happy for him to go into anything really as long as he enjoyed it and it lead somewhere eventually.

We are not sciency people (mostly lawyers)and to be honest don't know where the idea of medicine came from - ds decided when he was about 14 and once you get on the track I think it's difficult to say that you've changed your mind. In part I think ds wanted a career path so that he didn't have to think too far ahead or make choices. He got three offers to do medicine but with hindsight he wasn't ever that gung ho when we visited the universities in question. I should have been a bit more on the ball and questioned him a lot more on motivation and ability to complete the course. Easy to be wise after the event tho!

Oh dear - have learned lesson form all this and third child who has no idea of what he wants to do will not apply to uni before he leaves school. We'll see what he gets by way of A levels, take a gap year and consider everything before he goes anywhere. Boys do seem more prone to this kind of uncertainty - ds had a veneer of maturity, but really is still quite young underneath. Pity that medical faculties are not keen on a gap year as we could have saved a lot of money and left a place for a student who was totally committed.

78bunion Sun 15-Sep-13 08:57:24

That sounds a good solution. He can do post grad law and earn a lot more than doctors do and have a nicer life, perhaps or just join a company on its graduate recruitment scheme in advertising or BP or something with his history degree. My girls didn't read law, enjoyed their degrees very much and then did it after.

Chickengoujon Mon 16-Sep-13 17:37:09

I was just perusing the message boards and found this old thread of mine. I really hope that it all works out for your son and i am sure it will. He has fab A levels and just needs to get his confidence back. Having read some of these posts: she was never forced to do medicine, so I don't where that came from. She chose it herself and everyone at the university in question was totally useless and of absolutely no help whatsoever in her hour of need! I have concluded that students are just money in the bank to universities and they have no interest in them or their welfare from my experience. My dd is now extremely happy. She works in a brilliant international firm who are sponsoring her to do her degree. She recently bought herself a Mini and is enjoying life. There is life after medicine and I hope your son will see that soon.

Chickengoujon Mon 16-Sep-13 17:41:04

Badly worded post there - sorry!

Needmoresleep Mon 16-Sep-13 21:35:35

Great to hear this. DD has suddenly announced she wants to be a medic. We are not sure but luckily the A levels will be the same as she would have chosen anyway. Lets see if work experience puts her off - I have managed to line up a summer job working in the kitchen at a care home. If not I will show her this thread. If she is still keen we will support her but have been pre warned to keep an eye out.

TootiesFrootie Mon 16-Sep-13 22:42:05

I hope this thread doesn't put posters off medicine. My DS is now in his third year and absolutely loves it. His University seem to go out their way to make the medics feel privileged and valued. He has a lot of respect for the lecturers and has, so far, been very happy with his treatment by the Doctors when he has been on placement. One of the doctors on his last placement sat with him every day and went over all the interesting cases. ( She also bought him a coffee every day grin )

I think the admissions procedures for medicine are designed to try and weed out applicants who are not going to succeed as doctors but there is only so much they can do. The admissions policies are extremely rigorous. They are not just looking at academics. It costs in K250 to train each medical student and the universities must want to avoid any drop outs.

I don't know how the pastoral care works at university but I don't think it is realistic to think they would spot problems unless there were some very obvious symptoms. I would have thought it more likely that flatmates would provide a better support system than the university confused Although that would very much depend on whether you were lucky with your flatmates or not.

I don't think failing a first set of exams is a disaster but then going on to fail the resits is much more of a concern. The students would have had extra time to revise for the resits. I understand the exams get harder in later years so you can understand the universities point of view that they take a harsh view of students who fail their resits. Obviously, they should take account of any mitigating factors and they absolutely must provide support when they know a student is having problems.

My DS's university has a 'three strikes and you are out policy' so if someone fails the first year exams and the resits and are allowed to repeat the year they are absolutely not allowed to fail any more exams over the whole five year course. Even if its by 1 question. shock

mindgone Tue 17-Sep-13 15:51:02

DS2 has always wanted to do medicine. He has just started sixth form. I have found this thread really worrying! I understand that most posters do not wish to say which are the least supportive universities for medicine, but would anyone care to say which are the most supportive? Either from personal experience or anecdotally? Any pointers would be very gratefully received.

Candlefire Tue 17-Sep-13 17:39:36

See above, my DS loves it. To be fair, the role of university is not to support you in the same way school or family does. I agree there does not seem to be a lot of pastoral "care" going around but I would not select where to study on that basis. Just be sure your DC has been exposed to some sort of clinical setting and I would say that you need a really strong work ethic to get through the mountains of information that medicine throws at you. That seems more important than being super bright. Thousands of students graduate from medicine every year but a few drop out. It's the same for a lot of subjects--one of DS's friends is on his 3rd attempt at 1st year after failing law twice and transferring to another course......

TootiesFrootie Wed 18-Sep-13 01:36:48

MindGone. Here is all the official data on student satisfaction for UK medical schools. It's generally very high compared with other courses.

It's hopefully more reliable than canvassing opinions on here grin blush
Once your DS starts going on open days he will get a much better idea of where feels right for him. It is tricky as they have to wiegh up where they want to go to with where they have the best chance of getting an offer. My DS choose three Uni's he 'loved' and one that he 'liked' but was very confident of getting an offer. You have to play to your strengths be they high GCSE's or high UKCAT scores or whatever . It was all very complicated!

mindgone Thu 19-Sep-13 00:05:17

Thanks very much for your input Candlefire and Tooties. The link to unistats isn't working at the moment, but should be tomorrow. Can I just ask, where do you get the information about which unis prefer high GCSEs, or UKCAT etc? Is it just by looking at each individual med school, or elsewhere? Good info to have, so they can play to their strengths. Tooties, is your DS at the place he loved or liked, out of interest?

BigPawsBrown Thu 19-Sep-13 00:19:52

Gosh, loads of my (doctor)sister's friends failed a year and repeated it. Seems really harsh for them not to allow that. The mitigation should work surely as it's a psychological problem and so realising it has taken a while? She could also study biochemistry and get onto a medicine programme after that. Failing a year does not mean she isn't good enough, I did English and got a third in my first year!! It's so easy to take your eye off the ball when you have all that going on.

holidaysarenice Thu 19-Sep-13 00:32:22

As a medic I would tell you that if she leaves medicine she won't ever do it again. No other uni will take her/let her apply.

Speak to the uni - they may let her have a restart or year out.

The head of pastoral care/welfare of medics is who you want.

We are a prestigous med school and yet they are shit hot at this stuff. I'm so sorry she has had a bad experience. Some medics are indeed up themselves about this, the majority not.

My love to your dd

holidaysarenice Thu 19-Sep-13 00:38:28

Oh just realised this is an old thread!!

TootsFroots Thu 19-Sep-13 01:03:59

Hi, I am tooties but I have namechanged smile

My DS got into his first choice Uni but he would have been happy with anywhere. He got a very high UKCAT score so there were a few places where he was almost guaranteed an interview. Obviously, he had done all the normal things such as work experience and written a reasonable personal statement etc.
Due to my sons unusual educational history (we had lived abroad so he had no GCSE's ) we had to really examine each of the Unis admissions procedures. Every one of them is different and they _change year on year_ confused We got everything confirmed in writing,

The best places to start looking are to look on The StudentRoom website and to read a few books on getting into medicine.

You can also start reading the Uni prospectuses and start thinking about booking open days. (Find out when the booking starts for places your son may be interested in as they are usually overbooked)

You could also search old threads on Mumsnet. You may recognise my posts under other names smile

The only information that can be trusted is that contained in each Uni's medicine admissions policy. There is an awful lot of misinformation about with regards to getting into medicine. We were given conflicting information ALL the time shock. I would be wary about trusting anyone without double checking the actual official policies.

Some schools are more helpful than others. My sons huge comprehensive school doesn't usually have kids go into medicine so were not that helpful. (they were lovely but not so helpful grin )

As you know the competition is stiff and being passionate and brainy is only half the game. I think the other half is choosing where to apply.
I helped my son do the initial research but he went to all the open days on his own. He thinks he got more out of it as it made him think for himself.

I hope everything works out for your son.

mathanxiety Thu 19-Sep-13 04:26:03

Well done Chicken's DD.
One cousin of mine failed his premed course in Dublin and never looked back.

alreadytaken Thu 19-Sep-13 08:00:32

mindgone the Student Room website is pretty good most of the time but a friend of my child's who posts there a lot got something wrong this year because they didn't realise the university had changed its UKCAT policy. Same misinformation was given on mumsnet, but corrected. It is wise to be wary but if you rely on universities published policies you often wont get the full picture. They generally don't give clear advice on UKCAT or BMAT standards, for example, and when they do it's easier to find via the Student room. People are more honest at open days about what they really look for so screen with TSR and then visit. The UKCAT is changing this year and that may change how med schools use it.

Student satisfaction rates are often a good guide. After looking at Kings we wouldn't consider it although it has had problems with its exams and hopefully will improve. Birmingham gets a bad press on mumsnet but they start their course by telling students 60% will become gps. Rates arent dramatically different at most med schools and medical students do need to be sure they will be content to be a gp. Medical schools like evidence that students know that it isn't all surgery so some sort of community experience is helpful. They also need to appreciate that surgery can mean very long and tiring days in theatre. They need stamina. If they are very keen on surgery they need to consider that eventually health may not allow them to operate safely, their career may take them into administration.

At one medical school parents were asked "what sort of doctor do you want your child to be ". My answer would have been "I don't want them to be a doctor". Anyone bright enough to get into med school can have a career with better working conditions and possibly better hours and pay elsewhere. If they are determined to go ahead the drop out rate is actually quite low and students tend to support each other.

I wouldn't have said medical schools aren't keen on gap years. Lots of students don't get into medicine first time, 60% of applicants get no offers. My impression is that those who reapply after a gap year spent doing something relevant (going abroad may impress less than being a nursing assistant) have their choice of med school. They have shown commitment and gained a better appreciation of what is involved. Taking a year to gain experience and confirm it's what you want would probably go down rather well. The more academic schools would probably want to see some continued study, even if it's just reading about what you have experienced at work.

Many careers don't require a specific degree, employers just need to see that the problem that caused them to drop out of medicine is resolved. History is a good alternative degree choice as it requires quite an analytic mind.

TootsFroots Thu 19-Sep-13 09:39:56

That's a good post AlreadyTaken. I totaly agree that finding out about medical school admissions has to be a multi pronged approach.
It depends on the applicants skill sets too. If you are a 14 A* GCSE / 4 A* at A'level student with a stunning UKCAT score you probably don't need to analyse everything quite so much.
The main point I was trying to get across is that everything should be double checked as there is incorrect advice around.

I took a look at the student room wiki for medicine a level requirements for 2014 and it looked very comprehensive. It is certainly a great place to start.

alreadytaken Thu 19-Sep-13 11:52:25

totally agree with checking as we had different advice from different staff of one medical school. The great thing about the student room is that advice often comes from other current applicants and at least some will have been at the open days and therefore had the most up-to-date picture from the admission tutors. A Cambridge admission tutor was answering questions on TSR for a short time, other universities could usefully copy that.

Even the applicants with good academics can get 4 rejections, there are some each year. The students I know who have researched the schools most are also the ones I suspect will make the best doctors. They are determined, prepared to work hard, aren't arrogant and like to make their decisions on the best evidence they can get.

Jenmumof3 Thu 19-Sep-13 17:45:27

So sorry to hear about your dd. My ds just finished his first year of medicine. Left for uni happy, strong, confident. Returned seriously depressed. There was no support form him whatsoever. The uni's 'mentoring' scheme consisted of one 20 min meeting a year to discuss all social, emotional and academic problems ... tutors and gp similarly overworked and useless. Spent summer trying to get him in somewhere else and despite medical notes saying he needed to be nearer home they all said they didn't take anyone who'd already been enrolled in another school. Medicine seems to be a law unto itself and lack all compassion. I'm really scared about my son going back .... Hope your dd feeling better, her uni sound so rubbish - maybe threaten them with breach of duty of care ... any lawyers who can advise ....

Candlefire Thu 19-Sep-13 17:51:47

Sorry to hear that jenmum. Do you know any specifics of why he's depressed?

TootsFroots Thu 19-Sep-13 20:47:52

Just a reminder that this thread is a bit of a ZOMBIE thread but one that has turned into a general chat about medicine and Unis.

mindgone Fri 20-Sep-13 00:51:37

Alreadytaken and Tootsfroots, thank you so much for your considered advice, it is so much appreciated! I could never see DS as a surgeon! He's thinking more of general practice, or maybe psychiatry. Will suggest TSR to start, then specifics on uni websites. Thanks so much again, so useful and insightful from someone who's been there. thanks

iceshaow Wed 08-Oct-14 20:50:40

My son just failed his resit for his first year in a top medical school and lost confidence and motivation whistle he got 4 A*s and 2As at his A level.The uni give us 3 ways to do next: withdraw from the uni transfer to another university to apply the other course; take a year off and wait for another year's bio-science course; wait for the GP's result. We will appeal but We don't know if it's useful and what kind of help I can get from where? could anyone help me?

Decorhate Thu 09-Oct-14 07:47:08

I'm not an expert but I think it would be very hard to find another university that would accept him to study medicine. Is staying at his current uni on a different course an option? What does your son want to do? Does he still want to be a doctor? Do you know why he failed his exams? Hard to advise without knowing the background.

iceshaow Fri 10-Oct-14 09:14:22

Thank you very much for your reply. My son's uni said that all the other courses are full, he can't be transferred to and have to wait to see if the uni got a place for him for next year then start to learn bio-science from the first year. but his name has been moved from his medicine school and not allowed to attend the lectures.
He just saw a doctor and the doctor thinks he is depressed, will the doctor's result help him to apple?

Decorhate Fri 10-Oct-14 18:40:51

If he is unwell then perhaps it would be best for him to take a year out until he is better & is better placed to make a decision? Of course you would want to ensure that he is occupied while doing that, eg do some paid or voluntary work.
But I think you do need to get to the bottom of what happened. Did his social life take precedence, did he find the work overwhelming, did he feel homesick and so on.

iceshaow Fri 10-Oct-14 19:55:28

Thank you again. I think he failed the exam because he didn't realize how hard he should study in the top uni in the first year as he didn't put all his effort on when he did his A level. Then, when he found he was behind the others he didn't know what to do but to escape or hid himself and felt shamed to face people who tried to help him.

Decorhate Sun 12-Oct-14 10:17:02

But what does he want to do now? I can't imagine any unis have spaces left for this year & the courses will have already started. This may sound harsh but aside from medical problems, IME students generally fail because they haven't done the work. I know medicine has a higher workload than many other courses but he would have known that. I can't see that he has any other option at this late stage other than taking a year out.

alreadytaken Mon 13-Oct-14 15:32:24

he needs to talk to the student union at his old university about appeals but unfortunately I wouldn't hold out any hope for a place at a uk medical school, unless it was one of the private ones. Obviously they did try to help him and if he had sought help for depression/ dropped out before exams maybe he'd have had a chance. No idea about foreign medical schools.

Really you need to get him to think about alternative careers. Try to get him to see it as an opportunity to find a better career with most money and less anti-social hours. Don't let him feel he has to do bio-science, rethink what he wants to do then apply for next year.

Mumof3teens Mon 13-Oct-14 22:58:52

Can he resist the year? DS1 and DS2 both had fellow students who failed resist and were allowed to resist the year (medicine and dentistry).

Ehhn Mon 13-Oct-14 23:07:17

There are loads of options for the future - bio medicine, research, radiography, going to Australia to study where it is only possible to do postgrad medicine, they don't offer undergrad. OR Convert from another degree. My friend did natural sciences, 2 years in business then decided to become a doctor. She has qualified age 29.

There are many, many options - but first she needs to get well.

iceshaow Tue 14-Oct-14 20:09:13

Thank you very much for all your apply. We have got our son back and he really needs to take a year off as the doctor said he got the depression. The uni said they would like to help him to apply another medicine school or re-interview him in next Auguster to see if he is able to learn nature science in the same uni. However both of the opportunities are not guaranteed. My son insists to stay and change the course to study nature science from the first year, I just couldn't pursuit him to go to the other ways. so,so frustrated.

Decorhate Wed 15-Oct-14 17:10:43

I think he has decided on the most realistic option. As several people have already said it is virtually impossible to get accepted by another medical school if you have failed in one. Why are you frustrated? There are lots of other careers apart from medicine. Perhaps he realised it wasn't for him or he wasn't the one who wanted him to do it in the first place?

indigo1234 Sat 22-Nov-14 22:28:00

My DD had a conditional offer to read medicine at Oxford. She is very gifted academically. However after a work experience; she realised that hospital medicine is not for her and she will never be brilliant in that profession. Her passion and strength were always Maths and Physics and she blamed us for not giving her right guidance .She wanted to withdraw from her offer of Oxford and wanted to do Physics or Engineering degree. We were blinded by the prestige of an Oxford degree and did not agree to it (which makes us bad parents!)
The argument continued throughout her A level exams and she missed her A* required for Oxford and thus missing her offer. She felt bad that we were disappointed, but took it as an opportunity to pursue her real passion. She took a gap year and she got an unconditional offer to study Engineering at a top university (not Oxbridge).

I wish I had read this thread before. Now I feel that my daughter was extremely lucky to have dodged the bullet by not joining a course she would not have enjoyed or excelled. Medicine is not just about academics or intelligence or grades. One should choose it only if they have real passion and dedication for it.

skylark2 Mon 24-Nov-14 20:25:10

"One should choose it only if they have real passion and dedication for it."


Also I think people forget just how many medical careers there are which aren't "doctor". DH works in medical research. He's a physicist. Your DD may find that she can combine her engineering interests with her earlier interest in medicine, if she wants to.

Purplerain123 Fri 16-Jan-15 05:10:40

Just seen this post. My son failed 2nd year med school and the appeal submitted was on grounds of a numerical recount which was apparently carried out and my son was informed that the marks had been counted up correctly the first time round. I then made a request for information under the freedom of information act asking for information as to how many non EU overseas students have been asked to withdraw in the last 5 years and to no surprise the number was zero which is an iducation that the universities prefer to keep the students who pay a substantial amount if money over home students who pay a lot less ( my son was paying around £3,500 per annum). My son asked for the exam script to be disclosed as he could not believe that he had failed by 4% which to him is a large margin. This was refused and he has asked the Dean of the School via email to help him with this it he has failed to respond and chosen to ignore the email and further chaser email. Not a very professional approach. I was thinking of taking this matter to my local MP and was wondering if this would be of any use as nothing else has moved the university so far. Can anyone please offer me some advice as to any further steps that can be taken? My son has no mitigating circumstances.

alreadytaken Fri 16-Jan-15 09:17:38

purplerain123 I agree that failing to return the script is poor behaviour but there is a point at which it is better to accept a decision and move on. If he has failed his second year will they let him resit a year? Does he want to do that or does he think he would also struggle with later years? Has he been keeping up with the workload?

iceshaow no-one should be pushed into continuing with medicine if they don't want to do it, there are many careers with a better work life balance, more money and without the government interference. As a parent you support your child, not try to impose your own desires on them. You will not help your son's depression by pushing him into something he doesn't want to do.

I then made a request for information under the freedom of information act asking for information as to how many non EU overseas students have been asked to withdraw in the last 5 years and to no surprise the number was zero which is an iducation that the universities prefer to keep the students who pay a substantial amount if money over home students who pay a lot less ( my son was paying around £3,500 per annum).

Eh? confused

That doesn't follow. I get that you're bothered, but you sound very over-involved. He's an adult. Shouldn't he be doing this, if anyone?

UptheChimney Fri 16-Jan-15 12:13:00

Can anyone please offer me some advice as to any further steps that can be taken? My son has no mitigating circumstances

Your son needs to take steps, but frankly, if he's appealed the decision & his appeal was not upheld, there are few other steps to take. He should consult his Student Union who will have the experience to advise hm.

You come across here as over-involved, and frankly, you sound vindictive. Maybe you need to accept that your son failed that exam.

I can't speak for the Department/Faculty where any individual student is studying, but the general practice on assessment is very thorough. Up to 4 separate expert academics will see a piece of student work. Exams are usually marked, second marked, sometimes looked at by a 3rd marker,checked by the Exams Officer, and then random scripts sent to the External Examiners. Exam scripts are anonymous.

At most universities, the only grounds on which a student (and not her/his mother) can appeal their result are procedural. You need to accept that academics probably know more about the subjects in which they are examining your son, than either him or you.

UptheChimney Fri 16-Jan-15 12:16:35

Oh, and BTW Purplerain the funding streams for Home/EU students, and OS students are separate. I think your FoI request was a vindictive waste of scarce resources (time, human labour) in already under-resourced & overstretched universities.

How does it affect your son's failure that other students haven't failed? Weird non-logic.

Viviennemary Fri 16-Jan-15 12:18:47

Some unis are much harsher than others and I agree it seems to be that they have an oversuscription of students in the first year. It is worth appealing. But your DD should think very carefully whether she wants to continue with medicine. Hope things work out. Was it Birmingham?

funnyperson Fri 16-Jan-15 21:01:56

Medicine is a lifelong haul. Better out of it early if even medical school is a struggle.

Purplerain123 Sat 17-Jan-15 04:49:14

The main purpose of the FOIA request was to see whether students paying a lot more in fees each year were being given preferential treatment ie the uni is being lenient with them. I am aware that it is probably too Late for my son to do anything but this information may be used to help other students if brought to the attention of the public especially if universities are behaving infairly.

Moreisnnogedag Sat 17-Jan-15 06:03:08

Purple in my experience very few non-EU students run into difficulties because of the amount of sheer hard graft they put in. They are a self-selected group who are very hard working and often aware of the financial pressures their families face back home so work their asses off to make sure they pass.

Occasionally home/EU students don't feel the same financial/societal pressures to persistently put in the work and so more fail.

I'd be cautious about your gung-ho and adversarial approach - the uni may become disinclined to help your son find an alternative path.

Alibalibumblebee Sat 17-Jan-15 06:17:25

I then made a request for information under the freedom of information act asking for information as to how many non EU overseas students have been asked to withdraw in the last 5 years and to no surprise the number was zero which is an iducation that the universities prefer to keep the students who pay a substantial amount if money over home students who pay a lot less ( my son was paying around £3,500 per annum).

And God forbid the overseas students weren't asked to leave because they actually passed their exams.

ComeUndone Sat 17-Jan-15 06:54:48

The numbers of non-EU students admitted to Med Schools in the UK are tiny. The students have chosen to come here specifically and have passed the same rigorous interview process, often in what is a foreign language to them. Typically this tiny minority of students work their asses off, not least because they pay very high fees. As pp have said, all papers, particularly those of failing students, undergo a detailed and thorough process of scrutiny, essentially from the perspective of looking for extra marks to award. To suggest that the university gives them an easier time because they want to keep the fees is frankly delusional, particularly when he has failed quite spectacularly. I am surprised that he hasn't been given the chance to repeat the year, even without extenuating circumstances, but given this, I would be surprised if your MP took any interest at all. Trying to go above the heads of the people who conduct the assessment process by going to the Dean and then the MP is unlikely to result in a change of fortunes. Better to accept that he has failed and start figuring out what he wants to do now.

peteneras Sat 17-Jan-15 07:29:59

Purplerain, my son's med school mark exam scripts that bear only the candidate's number and not his/her name to ensure annonmity so there's absolutely no clue on the part of the examiner who the script(s) belongs to. Therefore, there's no discrimination nor favouritism in the marking of exam scripts which you seem to suggest.

For sure, exam scripts are marked critically and there's no room for complacency. In his 1st year, some 15% of his cohort failed! The 2nd year was not much better - 10% failed! And if you think things would improve as you progress further into the course, you're in for a shock. In his 3rd year, again, another 15% of his cohort was handed a fail! I've actually gone through this particular set of results with a fine comb and discovered many of the 15% who registered an overall fail had actually failed in one particular paper by only 1 mark! On the other papers they had scored magnificently, in the high 80's and a few in the low 90's!

Also, your perception that British/EU students are being discriminated by UK med schools does not hold water. The number of foreign non-EU medical students who are admitted to British med schools is strictly regulated by the government and they are a very small number! For sure, those who are admitted are very high fliers and many of them would be on their own government's scholarship of one kind or another.

And why pick on med schools? Other non medic foreign students who study in British unis pay a high tuition fee too. Are you also saying unis are discriminating against British students in other faculties too because they pay a lower fee?

FishWithABicycle Sat 17-Jan-15 07:47:25

Even if an appeal was successful, he would still be the student who scored lowest in the exams. There are further exams after the initial degree - some of which later on have a variable pass mark set so that the lowest scoring third of the cohort all fail. If he's not in the top half of the class in year 2 he doesn't have much hope of lasting the whole distance anyway. Surely it's better to know early?

There is no bias by fee-status of the student. The academics generally have only disdain for such petty issues, they care only for nurturing the brightest minds to the highest success. It is not remotely surprising that people who have gone to more effort to get to university and have more invested in it are working harder and achieving higher.

Your son clearly hasn't been taught to stand on his own two feet and take personal responsibility for his actions and their outcome, or you wouldn't be getting so involved in appealing, so maybe that sheds some light on why he didn't get the marks he hoped for.

Alibalibumblebee Sat 17-Jan-15 07:54:41

None of my children/their cousins/their friends who were all overseas students in UK and Australian universities have come home with anything less than a very good first in their chosen subjects. They have then all gone on to excel at Masters level and about 12 of them have gone on to do Phd's. Others have achieved very highly in their chosen profession where there was very a professional qualifacation to attain.

They worked their backsides of to achieve success and to suggest people are buying their degree by default is a case of the green eyed monster and down right vindictiveness.

Stop teaching your son that its not his fault he failed because one day he will have to wake up and face the reality that it was.

Stop looking for excuses that will make you feel better. Excuses that are saying to your son my mother can't accept me for who I am.

The reality is your son didn't make the grade in medical school and it means you're more than likely not going to be able to talk of 'my son the Dr'.

Live with it.

alreadytaken Sat 17-Jan-15 08:37:18

some of these comments are moving towards bullying. It's understandable that if your child has given up two years of their life to their dream and runs into problems you wll be upset for them. Sometimes we do and say unwise things when upset. Far enough to point that out but in a helpful way not joining a pack

Purplerainn123 your son's options are either (if the school will let him ) to repeat a year (with the risk that he may fail again or in a later year), to obtain a degree in something else and apply for graduate medicine or to take another degree and choose a different career. If it was my child I would encourage them towards the last of these but I have never been keen on my child becoming a doctor. I don't see it as a great career for very able young people. Even if you think differently medicine would be a very, very hard road for him to take now. If the school aren't offering the option of a resit year then its probably because they don't think he will make it through the rest of the course. Although it's rare to fail the final year it does happen and it's far harder on the student then.

To get a place at medical school he must be an able young man with a lot going for him on top of good academic ability. He passed the first year of medical school and should be able to transfer to the second year, probably not the third year, of a related degree. He could look at things like medical sales, pharmacy, medical research or he might prefer to move completely away from the medical field. There are lots of options for able young people, find out what he would like now and support him through this. But if he still wants medicine you have to help him realise that may not be an option.

fairywoods Sat 17-Jan-15 08:44:57

Wow! I have only read a little of this but the vitriol against purple is quite breath taking. Perhaps a little compassion for purple and her DS would be in order? Medicine is hard and just because he has failed doesn't mean he hasn't worked hard. Also, why have a go that purple is too involved? Maybe she is, but she cares and I'm sure the international students' parents would be involved, should their DCs fail. Some really nasty and very judgemental comments on here. Purple asked for help, not spite.

fairywoods Sat 17-Jan-15 08:49:08

Well said already, very helpful, positive advice. Your comment hadn't appeared when I was typing mine. Hope purple reads it. Restores my faith in kind, helpful people smile.

Alibalibumblebee Sat 17-Jan-15 08:57:49

Compassion when she's gone as far as investigating whether her son was failed because international students are given an unfair bite of the cherry? Not likely.

As for her asking for help not spite?

Well perhaps thats what she should have done - asked for help from the Uni instead of spitefully investigating what she did.

Perhaps she could now use the freedom of information act to find out how many privately educated students pass compared to those out of the local comprehensive - because lets face it she's still needing someone to blame for her son not passing.

Alibalibumblebee Sat 17-Jan-15 09:01:55

Oh and yes I would be involved in any of my kids had failed but only to ask what they had been doing to fail.

Would I blame it on the Uni and say they failed them because they were foreigners? Absolutely not and not just because its would be a cowardly way of dealing with a situation.

peteneras Sat 17-Jan-15 10:19:01

” some of these comments are moving towards bullying. . .Far enough to point that out but in a helpful way not joining a pack”

Moving towards bullying and joining a pack? Perhaps you may want to be reminded that this is a global forum and posters are free to express their opinions and not necessarily joining a pack to do so.

”Wow! I have only read a little of this but the vitriol against purple is quite breath taking. . .Some really nasty and very judgemental comments on here.”

Some really nasty and very judgemental comments indeed to go online to slander British med school(s) for giving preferential treatment to foreigners because they pay a higher fee. That’s not to mention the defamation levied on our foreign visitors that their British qualifications are bought with cash! I smell a rat here that this is a racist post. And I’m actually stunned that there was thought to involve the local MP as if (s)he had nothing else better to do. And what can the MP do? A university is an independent body, an entity with its own rules and is not answerable to anyone else as to how it awards its degrees/qualifications.

Yes, please think carefully before writing some nonsense here.

”. . . your son's options are either . . . to repeat a year. . . to obtain a degree in something else and apply for graduate medicine. . .”

Don’t know what kind of option is that frankly. Graduate medicine entry is much, much harder to achieve than standard school-leaving entry. Two years into the course and already struggling, I would sit down calmly and revaluate whether medicine is the right course for your son. It’s not beneficial or realistic to blame everyone for failure.

Alibalibumblebee Sat 17-Jan-15 10:23:14

I smell a rat here that this is a racist post.

I completely agree with you.

UptheChimney Sat 17-Jan-15 10:59:34

Fairywoods the only "spite" shown here is "purple*'s assumptions about university academics' lack of ethics, laced with a nice dose of racism.

Yes, it's difficult when one's children face failure and disappointment. But the adult parent response is to help one's child recoup, recover and look forward. Not encourage them to think it's all the fault of those cheating professors and foreigners.

fairywoods Sat 17-Jan-15 11:58:19

I really don't think purple was being racist and yes she is looking for an answer, especially as her DS wasn't allowed to see his script. Maybe Medicine isn't for him, but I thought some of the responses to purple were very harsh. She's obviously stressed by what her DS is going through and some kindness (whilst pointing out that she's got it wrong about internationals) would have been a more positive thing to do. The world needs kindness.

Alibalibumblebee Sat 17-Jan-15 12:20:34

The answer is very simple - her son failed his exam. It happens and its not the end of the world because the lad will probably go on to other things in life that are better suited to him.

And yes, the world does need kindness. It also needs less racism.

If people want kindness shown to them then its a good idea not to be a racist.

And I will say it again, there is still the fact the OP could investigate how private school pupils on the course do in comparison to those who went to the local comprehensive. Are the private school pupils pushed through at the expense of the others because anything else wouldn't be cricket? Or were they not such an easy excuse to target?

Purples post stinks to high heavens.

peteneras Sat 17-Jan-15 14:54:32

”I really don't think purple was being racist. . .”

fairywoods, for your own good, you really ought to learn to read between the lines of something, anything, that is written. Just read this again and you’ll see why I said I smelled a rat that purple’s post was racist:

”I then made a request for information under the freedom of information act asking for information as to how many non EU overseas students have been asked to withdraw in the last 5 years and to no surprise the number was zero which is an iducation that the universities prefer to keep the students who pay a substantial amount if money over home students who pay a lot less”

The intent was serious and official. The uni was legally bound to answer a question posted under the Freedom of Information Act! Without a question, purple had suspected foul play and favouritism towards foreign non-EU students (because they pay more money) and had demanded to know, not just for a particular year, but for the last 5 years if any foreigners were asked to leave.

Purple’s answer to her own question was testament to her (obvious) racism, ”and to no surprise the number was zero” which she further compounded by saying it was an indication that the unis prefer to keep students who pay a substantial amount of money, etc.

If all this is not blatantly racist, then I don’t know what is. Why ask about non-EU foreigners being dismissed? And like a poster said above, why not ask about public school students being dismissed instead? Or the number of female candidates being dismissed over the last five years?

No, it’s got to be non-EU foreigners because they are easier to kick about with little cone back from them. I don’t hear, for example, any complaints about non-EU foreigners heavily subsidising British unis. And if truth be known, the calibre of many of these foreign med students can put many of their British peers in the shade!

peteneras Sat 17-Jan-15 15:08:04

Sometimes it is necessary to be harsh in order to be kind. I’ve earlier quickly browsed through this entire thread from the start and was astounded how quickly time flies. This particular thread of mine posted almost 2½ years ago reminded me of being harsh to be kind.

Then, DS was in a state when his 1st Year exams drew near. He thought he was going to fail and literally panicked and complained hysterically that he couldn’t remember anything that he had learnt and he would go into the examination hall with a blank mind. He had approached me expecting compassion and understanding. Naturally I felt sorry for him and wanted to give him a big hug there and then. But then I thought, here’s this lad admitting defeat (to me in private) before he’d even sat the first paper. It just cannot be true.

So, instead of a hug, he got a slap on the wrist, so to speak. I had to tell him in no uncertain terms if Medicine wasn’t meant for him, then go in and sit the exams and show me the failed papers afterwards. And if that was the case, then we’d sit down again and look at another direction other than Medicine. After all, I don’t want to see him as a half-baked doctor with blood on his hands in a future date if he’s really not up to scratch. Yes, it’s as serious as that, we are talking about life and death here!

And whilst he was at it, give it a good shot for what it’s worth. This harshness seemed to have straightened him up psychologically and he entered the exams with renewed vigour. Not only were his fears totally unfounded, he emerged passing the exams finding himself amongst the top set! Since then there was no looking back. Today, he’s part of the furniture in his med school, showing prospective medics around the school and also working there each summer for a wage!

UptheChimney Sat 17-Jan-15 15:20:18

any complaints about non-EU foreigners heavily subsidising British unis. And if truth be known, the calibre of many of these foreign med students can put many of their British peers in the shade!

Yes, and yes.

The xenophobia in this country depresses me sometimes.

UptheChimney Sat 17-Jan-15 15:25:09

peteneras I wonder if sometimes doing the "pull yourself together, lass/lad" sometimes shows that we believe in our child's ability to succeed, even if they don't?

I think that sometimes we don't model/teach the right sort of confidence -- confidence coming from courage & resilience, rather than cosseting. I wonder if sometimes we need to push our DCs more into the "have a go at it" frame of mind. And I wonder about that with my students too. I try to push them, and tell them I'm pushing them, because I'm confident they can do it.

fairywoods Sat 17-Jan-15 15:42:21

peteneras I think purple was actually querying whether students who pay substantially higher fees are given any favouritism. It was nothing to do with racism, there was no indication of what race other than non-EU internationals. Jumping on the racism band wagon suggests you have a chip on your shoulder. Personally, I would not have done the FOI request, but the question was over money not racism. Well done for being such a Tiger Mum peteneras and for being so condescending.

peteneras Sat 17-Jan-15 16:21:20

fairywoods, when one talks about 'non-EU' foreigners, are we talking about the white French, Germans, Irish, Belgians, etc.? Or do the white Swiss, Norwegians, Danes, Canadians, Americans, Australians etc. send tens of thousands of their nationals to British learning institutions for further studies? The answer to both the above questions is a definite 'No'!

And so who are those wealthy non-EU foreigners who send their offspring by the planeloads to Britain for further studies? It's the Chinese, the Hongkongers, the Indians, the Africans, the Koreans, etc. And they are of a different race to the white British and Europeans.

Alibalibumblebee Sat 17-Jan-15 17:13:49

And the Arabs. Arabs like my children, their cousins and their friends.

All clever kids who slog their guts out to get a good degree.

And I really do wish we could knock this wealthy foreigners label on the head and stop referring to parent as those with cash to splash, Yes of course there are those who can comfortably educate their children abroad, but those who do it without the help of a scholarship usually make great sacrifices to do so. Sacrifices that include kids who've been abroad to study then paying for a sibling to study once they're home and are earning.

Im absolutely disgusted by Purple because of the insult she has heaped on the UK system of education which is still so much admired world wide, as well the insult she has heaped on kids who work their backsides off, just so she can say to her son - there there never mind, its all those pesky fee paying foreigners fault that you failed.

Purplerain123 Sun 18-Jan-15 03:53:01

Thank you Fairywoods for clarifying to the others on this forum what racism means and they should think twice before making such a terrible accusation and calling someone a racist. I was not born in the UK and my family is from abroad, I have family and friends who have come from abroad to study in the UK so I understand your point Alibalibumblebee. I was never mistrusting of universities until a read a newspaper article ( written by an ex-examiner stating that he had been asked by a student to re-mark his script and he was advised by a senior person in his office to ignore the request and to tell the student that the mark was final, however upon revisiting the script although the mark did not alter much but he did find errors in the marking which had been missed and this is not a one off case. At least the university could allow my son to see his exam script which would clear the matter and there would be no further argument and whatever mark given would be acceptable. As a parent I have a responsibility to my child to ensure that he has not been treated unfairly and I'm sure any responsible caring parent would do what they could to try and make sure that no injustice has been done. That is all I am doing. Our universities in the UK are not brilliant they are always being criticised for something or another so why am I being attacked for doing the same?

funnyperson Sun 18-Jan-15 06:04:36

Hmmm....interesting discussions.
There is research to show that the pass rate for those who appear to be 'foreigners' (even if they are British born) is lower, particularly in postgraduate medical examinations with an oral/practical component. I believe, for example, that the Royal College of General Practitioners has been taken to court about this.
Peterneras I am glad your son is doing well. You did the right thing for him. In my year there was a really nice, bright hardworking boy who panicked on the day of the pharmacology exam, took a look at the paper ad walked out without writing a word, so failed finals. I'm sure to this day he would have passed if he'd kept his cool and felt so sad for him, though he was OK 6 months later on the retake.

Booboostoo Sun 18-Jan-15 06:26:20

Purplerain the article you quote is by Daniel Sokol. He is a former academic, a philosopher who then did a law conversion degree and now runs a firm helping students appeal against uni decision. He should know, and because he was a former colleague of mine I bet you he does know, that students have no right to ask for scripts to be re-marked. Scripts are marked by the first examiner, second marked by the second examiner and then moderated by the external examiner - there is no appeal against this mark as such.

Alibalibumblebee Sun 18-Jan-15 06:38:59

Purple you don't have to be white or originally from the UK to be a racist.

Alibalibumblebee Sun 18-Jan-15 06:47:45

As for the article you've linked to - I cannot see anything to base your obnoxious use of the FOIA on.

The foreign students were an easy target.

Your son failed - live with it.

nameuschangeus Sun 18-Jan-15 07:29:53

I work in a student union advising students on academic appeals / course problems etc. I can assure you that it isn't uncommon for mistakes to be made or bias to be shown when academics are marking papers. They are only human. Universities close ranks when they think they're being criticised. Purple - your son need to speak to the student union ASAP and get their advice. It may be that he failed as he didn't work hard enough; it may have been a mistake. They will help to find out which.

NK5BM3 Sun 18-Jan-15 07:40:59

Purple - I'm not sure you've shared with us why you think your son has been penalized for the benefit of the foreigners?!

Booboostoo Sun 18-Jan-15 07:55:25

name I am very interested in your experience. Does you uni allow students to appeal the mark? I have never come across this, students can offer mitigating circumstances, they can appeal if the stated process was not applied correctly but never appeal the mark as such. What cases of bias have you come across? At the Unis I worked or examined for everything was marked anonymously.

UptheChimney Sun 18-Jan-15 08:43:53

Purple - I'm not sure you've shared with us why you think your son has been penalized for the benefit of the foreigners?

This is why Purple's allegation is racist. She's attributed wholesale bias against Home/EU students (as a group) in favour of "foreign" students as a group. She's alleged nefarious intention and bias on the basis of a groups race/ethnicity/citizenship. It's the equivalent of saying that all black people are lazy, or all women get hysterical every 4 weeks.

Yes, academics are human, and can have differing views on the evaluation of exam scripts. In my experience (which is extensive) the difference is often more about the numerical mark awarded than a narrative evaluation of the work ie the feedback comments.

Exam scripts don't have comments or narrative feedback. Just marks and usually initials of marker, second marker, and externals, or third marker if one is brought in to deal with a significant difference between 1st and 2nd markers. Numerical calculation errors are rare because most marks are now processed in complex computer systems. Inputting of marks is done by admin staff, and akways checked and double checked by another admin person, the departmental Exams a Officer (an academic) and then marks etc are all inspected at the Departmental exam board, at which at least one External Examiner is present.

So there are quite complex systems for checking and double checking, precisely because we know that people can make mistakes.

But Purple seems to assume that academics and admin staff deliberately 'make mistakes' to advantage a particular group of students, whom she identifies only on grounds of their ethnicity/race/citizenship. Because of course, when I get a set of exam papers, with candidates identified by numbers, I've memorised the numbers of those pesky foreigners. And I have special powers -- I can smell those foreign genes on the paper. Or maybe I can tell by the handwriting. Or the colour of the pen.

<wanders off confused >

alreadytaken Sun 18-Jan-15 10:20:26

some rubbish being posted here but some stupidity.

Actually there are quite a few Americans and Canadians at British universities, some white South Africans as well as non-white ones and god knows who else. I haven't met any Australians at university but wouldn't be surprised to find some of them too. The question was about whether those paying higher fees get favourable treatment and the racism was in the eye of the beholders. Pointing out that names arent on the papers and that the question was going to irritate the university when you want them to be helpful were useful responses.

Peternas graduate medicine is still an option if the young person still wants to do medicine after a different degree. Of course it's very competitive and the chances are not great but if they are dedicated to medicine they can try. Those who dont try dont have any chance. You can express any opinion you like, but the declared aim of this site is to be helpful to other parents - you were not being helpful.

I wish people would remember that what is done at one university or even one medical school is not always the same elsewhere.

Purplerain123 you can not compel the university to let your son see his script. I personally think it is bad practise but I suspect it wouldn't help if you saw it. Did he have summer resits - some schools have these? If he has not been allowed any resit then it's very hard on him. You need to be reminding him that he's an able young man and there are lots of opportunities out there for him.

I'm not sure about the racism. I think we are splitting hairs there: it is rather xenophobic (which I think is the actual term Upthe used) to assume the 'problem' would be foreign students.

But more to the point, purple is simply misunderstanding what her FOI request showed her. It couldn't possibly demonstrate bias. It just doesn't work that way, and I am not sure she thinks it could?

I'm sure academics can be biased, but I'm also damn sure most of them try extremely hard not to be. I simply don't believe anyone is routinely pulling off a conspiracy to 1) get around the anonymity of marking and 2) ensure that foreign students' marks are bumped up, purely to get more cash.

Why does anyone imagine this wuld help the academics? confused

Academics need money in the form of 1) their salaries and 2) grants. To falsify results so as to keep on more foreign students would be of no use to them. Unless you are suggesting the vice-chancellor or someone sufficiently high up is secretly moonlighting in the marking department and pulling of this sort of thing? confused And how on earth would they do that without the entire department knowing?

What is being suggested is a massive fraud. It would bring it a relatively small amount of money, too, compared to the amounts you might get as grants in medicine.

And, as a side point, honestly, purple, I know it's tough but you need to let go, and let him live his own life. I'd be mortified if my mum were making FOI requests on my behalf - isn't he?

Gah. Excuse typos.

'It couldn't possibly demonstrate bias. It just doesn't work that way, and I am not sure she thinks it could?' should be 'It couldn't possibly demonstrate bias. It just doesn't work that way, and I am not sure why she thinks it could?'

peteneras Sun 18-Jan-15 11:38:07

So you take it upon yourself alreadytaken as your handle suggests, that you know it all, rubbish and stupidity being posted by others and you’re the only one talking sense. If stupidity is being demonstrated anywhere, it is right here.

Of course, there are Americans, Canadians, South Africans, not to mention even Cherokees, Zulus and Maoris at British universities. My son’s uni alone have students coming from 140 countries. And by your own admission, Americans, Canadians, South Africans and yes, even Australians are just a few of them. So you reckon these few Americans, Canadians, South Africans and Australians are heavily subsidising all the British universities?

We are not talking about those few foreigners that you mentioned here. I bet even purple wasn’t even thinking of these people when she took a swipe at the wealthy non-EU foreigners who bought their UK degrees. We are talking about the bulk of foreigners here. We are talking about the Chinese, the Indians, the Africans, other Orientals, and yes, the Arabs too, who send students to the UK by the planeloads year on year! These are the guys according to purple the British professors want to keep at all cost because they are their bread and butter.

As regards graduate medicine, particularly having done and failed school-leaver medicine, the chances of success is as good as my 85-year-old grandmother being crowned Miss Universe!

peteneras Sun 18-Jan-15 11:42:22

My apologies Alibali - and the Arabs too, of course! I actually did think of the Arabs after I’ve pressed the button, ‘Post Message’ in my previous message but then it was too late to edit anything. Anyway, I thought my point was made as it stood.

And of course, you’re right again to say not all foreigners who come to study in Britain are wealthy. I personally knew of an individual who had to think long and hard each afternoon whether to have lunch or not. And when he did have lunch, it was a couple of buns which cost 11p and a cup of tea.

And then there was another individual who literally lived off the apples in the backyard of his rented bedsit. Heaven knows how he survived in the winter months when the apples are long gone. I understand today he earns tons of money in the Far East. The resilience and determination of these foreigners have to be seen to be believed. And no, they didn’t buy their British degrees, they simply worked their balls off.

peteneras Sun 18-Jan-15 11:46:46

Thank you funnyperson for the kind message re my son. Far too often I feel, some parents are over protective of their offspring and thereby sending them the wrong message. Like I said, sometimes one’s got to be harsh in order to be kind. Kids must learn to pull their own weight and be responsible for themselves.

You just threw a spanner into purple’s work in her assertion that foreigners are treated leniently in British exams. Yes, now that you mentioned it, I remember reading not so long ago about the legal challenge taken against the Royal College of Practitioners for not promoting or perhaps failing too many foreigners or something. What’s the outcome of this case?

Xpatmama88 Sun 18-Jan-15 16:05:24

Purple, I'm sorry to hear your DC failed his 2nd year exam. To be honest, if he had a very good pass in his first year, and only marginally failed his 2nd year, the medical school may be a lot kinder to him, and let him resit the fail part of the exam.
In my DD medical school, many of her friends (British, EU, and Non EU ) are gaining around 70% to 80% in the exam. If your DCS only scrap pass the first year, and fail quite badly in his second year, ( not even gaining 50%) then he is not really up there. It is a very cruel fact.
No one want to be treated by a doctor that did not know half of the medical knowledge. Medical school need to vet their students to ensure they are up to the required standard before passing them to the next level of study.
DD is in her final year, and before Christmas the medical school just did a ranking of all students, before it is rank again nationally. You need to be in the top 30 % in order to have a good chance of gaining a good F1 post of your choice.

Purplerain123 Sun 18-Jan-15 16:09:48

Boohoo are you saying that Mr Sokol has exaggerated what he experienced ?
Changeusnameus my son failed a resit in the summer which he passed in his first attempt but only had to resit it cause it was a 2 paper module and he failed the other paper thick meant he had to resit both. The uni refused to accept his first attempt which he passed as you must pass both papers together. Also when he was informed that he failed and had to do resits on August he wasn't given the failed Mark so he had no clue as to how much he failed by and this information has never been disclosed to him. My son did initially approach he student Union but they were unhelpful and suggested he appeal and req a recount which he was going to do a anyway. i have looked at the complaints made to the OIA and so many complaints by students have been justified on different grounds. Students have also issued claims against universities and some have been successful so universities can make mistakes I'm not saying the mistakes they make are intentional as someone in one of the post has suggested but if a mistake is identified universities have been known to close ranks and hide it.
Again I'm not racist and I'm not going against any particular race or ethnicity but universities have been criticised for being more like businesses these days which does make you think.

Forgive me, but if it makes you think, shouldn't it make you think that it's completely illogical to imagine academics marking (anonymous) papers and bumping up the marks of foreign students, to none of their personal benefit?

NK5BM3 Sun 18-Jan-15 16:20:25

I still don't get what you mean purple. Universities being 'more like businesses'. What has that got to do with passing more foreigners? How the heck would we know who we are marking and whether that paper was written by a foreigner or not?!!! We've already told you it's all anonymous, second marked, sent to externals (from different universities).......!

Of course, if there was an error (eg. Marks added wrongly, marks I putted wrongly, a sheet was not marked when it should have been, those are human errors and can and should be rectified). But beyond that, academic judgement is final.

Alibalibumblebee Sun 18-Jan-15 16:38:15

Am I understanding this correctly - at the end of the first year there was an exam which consisted of two papers, one the lad passed, and one that he failed. Then after resetting them because he had to do both - he failed the one he had passed a few months earlier.

Then in the second year he failed another exam.

Or is this topic only regarding one year of study and exams?

Kez100 Sun 18-Jan-15 16:39:44

I'm a bit confused about an unfair cohort "failing" at Uni. Surely University exams are not marked in order to fail a set cohort (like O levels were back in our day. If the students all get the right answers then everyone can pass.

If it were true that the University were only worried about its wallet - it would actually pass everyone.

UptheChimney Sun 18-Jan-15 16:40:58

I read the Sokol blog ( and blogs are anecdotal - a blogger could say anything) and he gave one anecdote of one mistake.

Purple you seem to be thrashing around trying g to put the blame for your son's failure anywhere but with your son

People here may not be aware but UK marking scales place the pass mark at 40% (not 50%) so to fail means you achieve a mark of 39% or lower. Not a good number for any undergraduate, let alone one who is going to have to be making fast judgements on people's health!

But its all the pesky foreigners' fault -- they bribe the VC or something

(Parts of this post maybe a paranoid overreaction) confused

Alibalibumblebee Sun 18-Jan-15 16:41:12

If it were true that the University were only worried about its wallet - it would actually pass everyone.

I have to agree and it did cross my mind because without the lad they must be down one set of fees

Xpatmama88 Sun 18-Jan-15 16:42:22

One more point to add, don't blame the nonEU students. In DD first year, the student gained the top prize come from Far East, she got a scholarship from the government to study here, and all her exams are 95% plus. Shockingly bright!

Ah, but they don't just bribe the VC, upthe.

The pressure the selection committee, years before their own matriculation, to hire a ninja VC who can creep about the department falsifying exam scripts at dead of night when the dogsbodies who mark have gone home ...

Alibalibumblebee Sun 18-Jan-15 17:00:23

For me this thread has now reached a conclusion.

I may be wrong in my understanding but it appears to me the lad failed exams two years in a row and if thats the case there really is no more to be said because - its really quite sad it was all such a struggle for him after working so hard at school.

I wish him well wherever life leads him.

UptheChimney Sun 18-Jan-15 18:04:40

As long as he doesn't fixate for too long on "failing" anyone who does well enough on all the selection criteria to take up at place at a UK medical school probably has the ability & the determination to succeed at whatever he sets his mind to.

The sense of failure must be strong at the moment. Let's hope he gets through it. But his mother needs to stop fixating on the pesky foreign students: they have nothing to do with her son's failure.

Booboostoo Sun 18-Jan-15 19:43:40

purple I am suggesting that if you have a business appealing uni decisions you may tend to exaggerate the need for such a service. Why is knowing how much he failed by significant? If the uni confirms there was no mistake in the marking what exactly is your complaint? If there are exams with pass and fail marks some people will pass and some people will fail. I am sorry your son is disappointed but maybe he should see this as an opportunity to find another subject he is more suited to. What motivation would Unis have to cover up mistakes that lead to students failing? Failing students are a disaster for the uni, bad for the individuals involved, bad for statistics, bad for reputation, bad for grant money!

funnyperson Sun 18-Jan-15 20:10:31

Outcome of the Royal College of GP's case was that they have been given a year to implement changes in oral/practical examination practices which at present appear to be biased against those who appear to be of foreign origin (even if UK qualified)

The financial drain of, and debt taken on by 'middle class' parents of foreign origin sending their offspring abroad eg to the UK to be educated is a huge worry and a national issue in India at present: it came up at an Indian national conference earlier this month. A good friend spoke about it.

Most medical students would be surprised to know that in fact most of what they learn at a UK medical school is actually useful in clinical practice. Not only is it useful, but it is important to know it accurately ie without error and under stress and quickly recall it, for example within a 6 minute consultation or during a cardiac arrest.

That said, not all those who qualify may go on to practice. They may go on to academia. But not if they fail their exams repeatedly without good cause.

It is a problem: not only does one have to be able to remember a lot of dry and apparently irrelevant facts accurately, one has to be an empathetic compassionate human being, capable of excellent communication and sociable and friendly to boot with an exemplary social and home life and networks.

That such people exist at all is astonishing. Yet I can assure you that some of my colleagues: in fact most of my colleagues: are truly amazing people. dedicated and committed and very hardworking all their lives. It is a privilege to know them. I myself have never been ideal, though luckily blessed with brains and a conscience I have been able to learn and be trained to be a reasonable doctor. I don't say this to boast but to give heart to those at the beginning who think they may never get there, and to those who fail to say it is no shame to fail at this particular task which is difficult to succeed at. It is good to have tried.

funnyperson Sun 18-Jan-15 20:17:32
Purplerain123 Mon 19-Jan-15 03:33:23

Alinbalibumblebee this matter is only regarding 2nd year my son's first attempt at the paper and his second attempt ie resit. If he had been given his pass mark and fail Mark he may have known how much more he needed to do for his resits which made him concentrate more on the paper which he failed rather than the one he passed some 4 months earlier.

Purplerain123 Mon 19-Jan-15 03:40:53

Upthechimney the pass mark was 50% and my son got 46%. But he passd this exam on his first attempt and Bly had to resit as he failed another but was never given a margin as to how much he passed / failed by so he was going into his resits without having this information.

Booboostoo Mon 19-Jan-15 06:22:00

Goodness purple everyone is partial to their DCs but you are not doing him any favours with this attitude. This medicine, the aim is not to know as little as possible to scrape by at each exam. Upon graduation he will be relying on this knowledge to treat real human beings and I doubt a 50% performance will be good enough. Give him a break, encourage him to move in another direction.

Purplerain123 Mon 19-Jan-15 06:38:19

Booboostoo my son has started another course at university he got I straight away through clearing last year but he is not himself he's not as happy as he used to be which is concerning and it is the reason why I'm trying my utmost to ho him get back on the course. I've discussed studying medicine abroad with him but he won't consider it. I just want to see him happy again.

Alibalibumblebee Mon 19-Jan-15 06:51:04

Thank you for that Purplerain, I was confused by mention somewhere of a first year fail and another mention of a second year fail.

But that said, I think if your son had a good grasp of the relevant subject he wouldn't have gone into an exam and failed it after passing it a few months earlier. The knowledge would have been cemented in his brain. I think he was running very hard to keep up and not managing it. Was the one he originally passed a good pass or did he scrape through?

I have a SIL who's a newly qualified Doctor, his first language is Arabic but he did his training in English here at home. If he ever scored less than 80% in an exam he would be happy but at the same time he'd say it should have been better.

And I do understand the upset your family is feeling. I have a boy who's dyslexic and study has always been very hard for him, he would always have resits to do over the school holidays because he couldn't cope with the work load over the entire school year. He's now doing really well as a licensed aircraft engineer on about 3 different aircraft. He did want to be a pilot but that could never be all things considered and we still laugh about how people would have got on a plane with him as the pilot and gone on a magical mystery tour. And even though he loves his job it must be hard for him at times because one of his brothers is a pilot and he very often has to stand in the cockpit with him and clear/not clear his flight for take off after they've discussed mechanical issues. They joke about things Im told the pilot one tells him to clean the windows and the engineer one tells him to get stuffed and put a new one in if you want it cleaner than it is - oh but you can't can you? grin

I feel for you son and wish good things for him.

Alibalibumblebee Mon 19-Jan-15 07:00:51

I just read your latest posts and I really dont know what to say apart from you are going to have to get him to move on and that is never going to happen if you are still trying to get him back on the course - even after he's started a new one.

Its also time for you to move on, and I'd put money on your son bucking up big time if he sees you are coping with the situation and looking ahead.

Now it could be that your son is depressed and I get him to see a Dr just in case, but once you've done that, and if your son is ok, then it really is time to give him and yourself a bit of a kick up the backside and move on.

Oh and mark my words - the way you are going about this he could easily turn around and say to you one day, 'mum I didn't do so well on my second course/in life because you just kept on making excuses for me, its all your fault'.

You are doing him no favours at all by feeding his upset.

Xpatmama88 Mon 19-Jan-15 07:18:10

Purple, If your DS just get into another course through clearing. First of all you need to ask him, he did this other course because he is really interested in the subject or just to hold on to something.
If he is staying in the same University and seeing all his other medical friends and doing a course that he is remotely interested in, of course he will feel miserable and seeing himself as a failure. It is not easy for him to regain confident. And just trying to get him back into medicine which he is not really up to it is not going to help either.
I'm sure he had all the grades needed for many other courses. I think you may need to sit down with him and talk about other options and get a fresh start and applying for some proper courses and all the last minutes options through clearing.

Xpatmama88 Mon 19-Jan-15 07:23:08

I mean not going for the last minutes option through clearing.

NK5BM3 Mon 19-Jan-15 07:29:11

Seriously, scrapping by is not the same as passing. The students I've had who get through at the margins (without any extraneous circumstances) tend to end up with a third or a 2:2 at best. Those who've always hit the high 60s and 70s surprise surprise, end up with the distinctions.

You really need to encourage him on his new course, and forget about the whole medicine thing. I'm starting to wonder whether medicine is really his thing, or your thing?

When I taught first years and asked why they were in this programme, there were several who'd say 'because my entire family are lawyers/accountants/engineers...' And frankly, that's not a good enough reason. Or worse, 'because my mum/dad said I should do this...'

As the parent or the more grown up person here, you need to let him make up his own mind. Taking a year out may be the best thing for him. He can go volunteer, or work in a shop, or work as a care home assistant... See what he really wants to do. He has so much more in front of him. It really doesn't matter if he re starts uni at 20/21.

I know of professors who went back to uni at 20something, and got their PhDs at 30something. I know of teachers who took year out, re did a levels and are now v successful teachers. It's not the end of the world that he's not a medic.

UptheChimney Mon 19-Jan-15 10:42:25

Excellent advice NK. I too wondered if this is actually a case of a parent living through a child. If the parent is this engaged & angry (that's what I pick up from purple 's posts, anger) about those horrible pesky foreigners and the cheating university VCs then maybe the son is channelling his mother's feelings?

Unhealthy all round.

I just don't get the sense of injustice from purple. Presumably it's all laid out in the University regs and module/course documentation that both parts of an assessment must be passed, or the who;e thing retaken? That's quite a normal regulation actually (normal, not universal!): that a student must pass all parts of the assessment in a course/module, in order top pass the module as a whole.

And I don't get the "He needed to know how much he failed by so he knew how much to study" -- this sounds like what we increasingly see as very instrumental attitude towards learning: that it's not actually about learning -- understanding the material and the concepts -- but about passing by any means.

A really unfortunate attitude <sigh> I realise how old-fashioned I am. Thinking that an education is about learning stuff, not just getting the bit of paper.

Alibalibumblebee Mon 19-Jan-15 13:12:36

A really unfortunate attitude <sigh> I realise how old-fashioned I am. Thinking that an education is about learning stuff, not just getting the bit of paper.

No, its not old fashioned.

UptheChimney Mon 19-Jan-15 13:23:42

I may have been being a bit sarcastic. wink grin

But seriously, nice to read that I'm not alone! Thank you.

peteneras Mon 19-Jan-15 14:22:37

Purplerain, I come from a family of medics but I myself am not a medic. Without exception, all my family members are involved in the medical profession. Hopefully, in a couple of years time or so, my DS would become the 9th medical doctor in the immediate family circle. His younger cousin who started one year later, would hopefully, be the 10th. In addition to the doctors, there are also 5 dentists and I don’t think I’d bother about the Ward Sisters, Staff Nurses, etc. With this particular background, you bet I do know to a certain degree how people in the medical profession live and work.

Not very appealing. Not to me, I might add . . . that’s why I’m not a doctor! No, seriously, I was ridiculously hopeless in science, chemistry in particular, when I was at school. In any case, I never wanted to be a doctor anyway; my interests were towards other things more exciting than dealing with sick people day in and day out.

I am saying all this because I want to tell you that to me, being a doctor is not the be-all and the end-all. Because of my attitude, believe me, there were numerous occasions when what started as a warm family discussion, turned out to be very heated and emotional arguments with many of my said relatives mentioned above about the life of a doctor in particular and the medical profession in general. It’s not that I don’t respect doctors or their profession, on the contrary, I honestly think it must feel very nice to be called, ‘Doctor’ anywhere you go and be addressed as one. It’s just that the huge amount of learning, time, stress, heartaches and whatever else that’s thrown at you on the way to qualifying as a doctor and the stressful and ridiculous workload after that (not to mention more exams and yet more unending exams) that make me think, surely, there must be a better way to make a living and make more money and enjoy life other than being a doctor?

And yes there is! Or rather, I should say, there ARE! There are many professions out there for an intelligent and bright young person of whom your son obviously is, that is better than being a doctor. My happiest and richest friends are not doctors.

When my son was doing his A-levels at a certain boarding school, of the dozen or so of his peers living at the same boarding house, half of them have either one or both parents who are doctors, surgeons, specialists of one kind or other - all very high flying, some very famous in their country of origin. And you know what? None of these medics’ sons (my son’s peers) applied to do Medicine. My son was the only one doing Medicine. All of these boys are straight A* IGCSE holders of at least a dozen academic subjects and all of them were predicted (and achieved) at least 4 A* at A-level. In other words, all of them are more than qualified in terms of applying for Medicine but none did except my son. So these boys do know something about ‘doing Medicine’ but all bar one, refused to touch it! Is there a message there somewhere?

I would like to conclude by saying your son is not a failure. Failing one exam paper by a few marks does not make anybody a failure. There could be any number of reason(s) that your son did not pass one particular paper on one particular day. By the mere fact that he was accepted into a British medical school in the first place tells me he is intelligent enough to rule the world (of many other disciplines) if he so wishes. The very best of luck to both of you for the future.

Let us just pause for a minute and take another look at the title of this thread started by chickengoujon. Her DD failed First Year medicine. It was the end of the world for her and her mum then, or so they thought. She picked herself up and looked at another direction. Today she couldn’t be happier with life. Well done chicken and DD! Sorry to have hijacked your thread but I hope your story gives others in a similar position renewed inspiration.

NK5BM3 Mon 19-Jan-15 19:16:03

Thanks chimney and fwiw, I agree that degrees these days are seen in a rather instrumental manner. Hence lots of students asking 'will this be tested?' And other comments like 'your slides don't reflect that chapter that you say we need to read...' 'That example isn't the same as what you told us to read'. There doesn't seem to be the mindset to go learn, explore, read and discuss. Doesn't matter if you disagree. That's fine...

Even in the sciences I imagine even though there's less scope to discuss and disagree, it would be great if students could explore say different engines or different molecules within the same family?!

I think if purples son has always been a v good student then failure at this point can be quite a shock. My kids are still young but I can still remember the pressure within my family when it was time for us and all the other cousins to do a levels and get into Uni...

We all did different things and we are all successful in what we did/do but the fear of failure at getting into Uni and then the subsequent fear of failure to graduate/do well was always lingering. I worry that I will pass on that pressure on my kids...! Then again my 6 year old is currently at chess club till 8 tonight. If anything I think his father will be the one exerting these pressures!! grin

bellafraebuchan Sun 25-Jan-15 00:57:08

Goodness me - so surprised at the turn this thread has taken. I resurrected it when my DS was put out of med school in Sept '13 and basically I just wanted a bit of a shoulder to cry on.....I wanted to speak to people who had been through the experience of a child being thrown off a course. Neither myself nor DH knew what to do next and DS was in state of shock. I found some lovely, helpful, kind comments.........but am stunned to see the turn the thread has taken; boasting about children with amazing A levels and degrees, smug tales about how much someones DC loves medicine and is doing well, suggestions that parents have pushed children into doing medicine, living through children, etc etc. This is not helpful. DS, should you wonder is still doing very nicely with history and wants to do teaching. Hurray!! (Have changed user name for some unknown reason)

We know absolutely nothing about anybody's real circumstances here and therefore cannot/should not really say that much. Even if you disagree with what somebody is saying or think they are perhaps being a bit irrational, must some of you be so nasty? What does Alibali know about Purple's circumstances that allows her to comment so unhelpfully. Please be nice to distressed mothers!

Couple of final points - just scraping exams is not always bad. Somebody has to come in the middle or last!! I mostly just passed my law exams - however, I was actually a pretty reasonable lawyer (well nobody ever complained about me and I was never sued!!) and got on very well with clients - modest to boot as well....Sure there were better, more academic lawyers than me - DH with a 1st class degree is one for a start, but there is a place in all careers, including medicine, for the slightly less brilliant who are efficient, pleasant and helpful!!

Finally, finally, if we want to talk about discrimination and racism, why not start another thread about the Scottish Government uni fees structure, where English students pay top whack for a four year degree course and other EU students get in for free? Something pretty rank there methinks.....plenty of rude comments we can all freely make about that!

Alibalibumblebee Sun 25-Jan-15 03:25:11

Please be nice to distressed mothers!

No, not when children like my lot as well as their cousins and their friends have worked very hard to get into Western Universities in the first place let alone get a good degree and someone then rubbishes their efforts by suggesting it was bought or made easy for them because they're foreigners.

Just as I would be appalled with any of my lot for saying they failed an exam because they're a foreigner, Im also appalled by someone suggesting their son failed his because he isn't .

Alibalibumblebee Sun 25-Jan-15 03:39:19

And just to add that at school they were educated in Arabic with English as a second language (they are all fluently bi-lingual, its just the way the system worked) apart from the 4th one who was educated with an even split of both languages. So when they and their pals did get to Uni having to study entirely in English was something they'd not had to do before.

Getting their degrees/qualifications because they were foreign fee paying students is something that definitely didn't happen.

FishWithABicycle Sun 25-Jan-15 06:13:00

bellafraebuchan I'm glad that you found support and reassurance on this thread back in 2013. I would hope we nest of vipers generally are kind to distressed mother's, perhaps with a little dose of honest plain speaking where needed.

Without scrolling back through the pages to find your old posts, I'm reasonably sure your posts would have been about expressing your distress and seeking reassurance and advice though, weren't they? Not bandying about racist conspiracy theories and expecting everyone to join in righteous anger at the evil university being so unreasonable to her golden child. That's why she's getting less support. I'm sure that if the thread is resurrected yet again in 2016 or 2017 by a new distressed mother, she will receive all the support she needs if she doesn't have that attitude.

alreadytaken Sun 25-Jan-15 22:40:39

No the nest of vipers was not kind to a distressed parent, with a bit of plain speaking. It was thoroughly offensive and some of the comments are about boasting and showing off rather than being helpful. I always think people who have to boast about their children so inappropriately must have very unhappy lives themselves.

Racist theories are in the eye of those with a chip on their shoulder about their "golden children".

Remnded me why I rarely visit the site. Any other distressed parent is highly unlikey to want to ask for advice here. bella I'm glad your son is enjoying his degree.

FlowerFairy2014 Mon 26-Jan-15 07:45:52

I am sure the children will find their way in life. It is not easy.

However there are lots of careers other than medicine. City lawyers can earn £1m to £2m a year which tends to be more than most doctors (if money matters to people which of course often it does not).

peteneras Mon 26-Jan-15 10:18:21

All very philosophical, bella, and you asked, must some of you be so nasty?

Purple, a distressed mother sought understanding and compassion and instead, she disturbed a nest of vipers. You know, the Chinese have a saying (very wise people, the Chinese), ‘Big eyes you have but you can’t see the mountain in front of you’. Put it simply, Purple can’t see the nastiness she meted out to all the foreigners who she believes have stolen her son’s medical degree. So her son failed his medical exam and everybody, especially the foreigners is to be blamed. Everybody that is, including the university itself that needs to be punished and be exposed under the Freedom of Information Act. Yes, Parliament needs to discuss this very urgently too so the local MP has got to be involved!

Did I hear distressed mother seeking understanding and compassion?

Purple’s nastiness (that she couldn't see) is an affront to the honest, hard-working foreign students and their parents who pay top whack so that Purple’s son can have a cheap, subsidised education; or perhaps these foreign parents have no feelings and they don’t need understanding and compassion like Purple does and their foreigner DC do not deserve anything like Purple’s family deserve?

Big eyes that don’t see the mountain indeed!

peteneras Mon 26-Jan-15 10:24:13

”Remnded me why I rarely visit the site.”

Well, don’t delude yourself that you are greatly missed here. I heard nobody screaming for your return. The trouble is, people take it onto themselves and appoint themselves the guru who knows it all, done it all, and have an answer to everything whilst others are posting rubbish and stupidity.

And why are you so agitated by kids with multiple A* A-Levels and amazing degrees? Did I hit a raw nerve somewhere? It must hurt badly to know there are kids out there who are much cleverer than your DC and mum after all, does not know it all!

And talking about stupidity, one must be very stupid indeed to be threatened by some unknown posters who make all types of claims on the worldwide web. It’s your inferior complex that’s governing your life. Anybody with real substance who needs to boast about anything don’t come on the internet to boast to faceless, nameless and anonymous people whom they’ve never met. They do it in real life, at the school gate, at the Speech & Prize Giving Day, at social gatherings amongst friends and relatives . . .

Yes, racism is in the eyes of the beholder - only that the blind cannot see it!

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 11:35:06

I think it's well known that certain medical schools take on more students than they can accommodate in subsequent years and then boot them out, seemingly with little compassion. Peteneras says KCL has shed an alarming percentage of its intake in her DS's year, assuming they don't allow any or many of those who failed to stay on. KCL isn't alone. I've no idea how much of this is about finance in general, but presumably something. If it's not about finance then the medical schools are showing remarkably poor judgment at selection. They know very well how many students they can take through and there's bound to be some wastage but certain schools are allowing a huge margin for error and messing up a lot of very worthwhile students' lives in the meantime. It's completely appropriate for a parent to feel upset on a DC's behalf after the slog to secure an offer in the first place. It can't be easy to start over again, psychologically, socially or financially - much better to go in a different direction at the outset. Medical schools should have a duty to only take on the right sort of number at the outset, and if their procedures aren't currently producing a near enough balance in numbers then surely they should review those procedures. They won't of course, if there's something in it for them.

alreadytaken is possibly the most knowledgeable poster on medical school applications that I've come across on MN, in fact I've just referred another poster to her to answer a question that I couldn't, about appropriate schools for a certain applicant, and PBL. One thing I haven't detected in her is an inferiority complex, and isn't her DS at the top medical school in the country? smile

Booboostoo Mon 26-Jan-15 11:51:49

I worked in a medical school.

We did not take more students on to make money, we took as many as we could because of enormous government pressure (at the time) to train more doctors.

Pastoral care was variable and depended on the person offering it but on the whole the 10% who dropped out after year one did so because they discovered that they did not enjoy medicine. Stressful as that was at the time it was much better for everyone for these bright young people to find more fulfilling careers. Anecdotally the main concern failing students had was how to break the news to their families.

Foreign students were the least well supported group of students and often suffered greatly because of it.

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 12:17:41

But Booboo some schools have a reputation for taking on too many, more than they have space for subsequent years. That's not quite the same. Also, according to MN at least, there are many, many very deserving students who don't get the offer of a place at all, so only getting it 90% right given the vast pool of available and highly qualified applicants isn't really that great. I can't quite believe that selectors get it so wrong so consistently inadvertently in certain schools. The drop out or failure rates at some other schools is very low. If some can get it right, why not all?

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 12:19:23

a reputation for taking on more than they have space for in subsequent years.

Booboostoo Mon 26-Jan-15 13:19:14

We took on more than we had space on for the first year, eg lecture theatre sat 240, we had 270, they had to sit on the floor - still anything to do with greedy medical schools but with government pressure and falling HE standards. This severely affects the students's education, eg from two students per cadaver to twelve students per cadaver.

Medical schools are massive loss makes for Unis, they are subsidised by other departments on the grounds that we all need doctors even though it costs a lot to train them.

There are far too many well qualified, passionate, highly motivated kids applying to medical school...there is no magical formula for telling which ones will enjoy the training. If you know how to identify those who will go on to drop out, feel free to share the insight.

Which medical schools do you know with a very low failure rate?

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 13:59:35

Oxford and Cambridge for starters.

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 14:00:54

There may very well be others of course.

Booboostoo Mon 26-Jan-15 14:14:03

And you think that this because they have a more discriminating selection policy? Do you think that Oxford's really high suicide rate may be of some relevance? Mightn't Oxford attract more students for whom failure is not an option and why would anyone think this is a good thing?

A slightly less laconic response may be useful as well as in what is their drop out rate and where did you find the statistics?

hanahsaunt Mon 26-Jan-15 14:21:17

A zero attrition rate is not feasible - making such a commitment at 17 (ie when choosing university places) is a big deal and inevitably there will be those for whom it is the wrong decision for myriad reasons. It would be more unfair to insist that they stay and drag them through the course.

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 14:35:12

Booboo I would think that Oxford's higher than average suicide rate is a desperately sad by-product of the type of generally very high achieving student that applies there. Are you suggesting that the suicide rate is higher amongst Oxford medics than in other disciplines? I don't think it is. One thing which comes through repeatedly from parents whose DC have been asked to leave other medical schools is the apparent indifference to the DC's plight and a prior lack of pastoral care. Oxford has really excellent pastoral care and that may be part of the reason why the drop out rate is lower. That's probably far more to do with it than some rather offensive notion that Oxford medics who aren't managing commit suicide rather than 'admit failure' as though that's some kind of weakness. Also, I can't see that your point is in any way related to the very obvious over recruiting in certain medical schools, which leaves far too many highly able youngsters adrift. It seems scandalous to me; I'm simply asking if anyone knows the real policy behind it.

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 14:39:33

hanahsaunt obviously a zero attrition rate isn't feasible. But there's a huge gulf between zero and the sorts of cull being seen at the medical schools which have a reputation. What exactly are the advantages to the medical schools of that level of cull?

bellafraebuchan Mon 26-Jan-15 15:02:39

Sure Purple seems to be casting aspersions etc and being pretty silly to do it on MN.....however my point remains. It would have been perfectly possible to say to her that she is barking up the wrong tree, is likely to upset people and to suggest that she tones it down massively - that would have sufficed.
Who knows, her mother could be terminally ill, partner left her whatever...we don't know her circumstances and sadly people do say daft things when they are at a low point.
Plain speaking doesn't mean shouting and being aggressive online. It can be done nicely - it didn't seem to done so here.
It also really doesn't help telling the woman how brilliant your DC and relatives are and how hard they work. Good for them, very happy to hear they are all amazing, but not terribly great to hear when disaster has struck for someone in your family. Believe me, it doesn't help! And perhaps take on board that what goes around comes around - one day some of you may be grateful for a few kind and helpful words even when you are being I'm sure I was back in 2013.

I looked back the thread and this is really a shoulder to cry on sort of thing - it is a thread about those who failed in med school for whatever reason. I was very grateful that others shared how upset they were when this happened to their DC; made me feel not so alone. Until it happens to you, please don't trample on other people's feelings -you can't know how you would react.
Do also start a new thread so that you can tell everyone else that med school is amazing for some.

Booboostoo Mon 26-Jan-15 15:52:13

Molio you seem to be implying that staff enjoy having students drop out. Let me assure I gained nothing by the students who dropped out, my school didn't make money from them, I didn't enjoy the experience of telling students they had failed and having them burst into tears in my arms, and no one gains a tough reputation from having a high drop out rate.

As I said there has been immense government pressure to recruit more medical students in order to have more doctors. At least that was the case in the 00s.

Booboostoo Mon 26-Jan-15 15:53:06

As for pastoral care we struggled to get clinicians to deliver the clinical parts of the curriculum, getting them to deliver pastoral care when they were unwilling or unable was impossible.

Molio Mon 26-Jan-15 16:13:31

I'm implying nothing of the sort Booboo and don't see how you could infer that. I'm wondering if those who are more knowledgeable than me on med school admissions can shed some light on why certain schools recruiting today grossly over recruit and then get rid of a large percentage of each cohort. Is this just a particularly brutal recruiting technique/ survival of the fittest? There must be a good reason behind it but if that is the reason then I'd suggest given the human cost it isn't a good one. I'd certainly suggest longer interviews and more scrutiny of applications in order to save the heartbreak along the way. It seems extremely irresponsible. The interviews DS had at a couple of universities were very short, lacked all depth and probably revealed nothing of consequence to the interviewers.

On your last point Booboo, I don't think there's any excuse for not providing decent pastoral care, particularly in a high pressure discipline such as medicine. If the clinicians aren't available, other staff should have been recruited as a priority - certainly the 10% drop out rate would suggest your institution needed to do more than it did.

Mindgone Mon 26-Jan-15 23:49:41

Would anyone mind sharing the names of the medical schools which have a reputation for 'culling' please? It seems that this is well known only to those 'in the know'.

Booboostoo Tue 27-Jan-15 07:34:20

Molio you don't seem to know anything about how medical schools work and you are spreading silly misinformation.

There is no policy to over recruit and then cull. Over recruiting doesn't make any sense on its own, numbers of student admissions in all subjects are decided in advance with the government. Even if you could over recruit you would not gain anything - medicine is a loss maker. Pouring money into a medical student to have them drop out is even more of a financial disaster than subsidising the medical students who continue.

Medical students drop out because nothing prepares you for the experience of medicine other than trying it out. It is an extremely academically intense degree which demands a lot of maturity and some students decide this does not interest them.

Medical schools have block agreements with the NHS to provide teaching, however this does not identify particular individuals to do the teaching,they have to, in effect, volunteer. Given how overworked doctors are, many of them feel they cannot fit teaching duties into their days as a result it is difficult to even find tutors for clinical topics, much less something considered secondary like pastoral care. Who are the other staff who will be recruited for pastoral care and who will pay for them? This is the stuff of fantasy that could not be funded even during the golden years of HE much less now that everything is grossly underfunded. If we can't find anatomy demonstrators, cadavers and anatomy equipment do you think money will be spent on recruiting pastoral care tutors?

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 08:20:12

Booboo I don't know anything about how medical schools work I simply know a large number of current or recent medical students/ their parents who share their experience. I'm not a medic. I don't claim insider knowledge which is exactly why I asked the question. I'm interested in the reason why certain schools shed such a large number of their cohort each year and why those same schools appear to have been doing this for years. And that's because this thread shows the fall out, and that seems avoidable or at least capable of being reduced. I'm wondering if your knowledge is current, because you mention the state of things in the medical school you worked in fifteen years ago? Perhaps things have changed? Anyhow, if my impression is 'misinformed' then it's at least shared by a number of people I know whose DC have been through the process and in some cases whose jobs enable them to know more than mere parents.

I'm well aware of funding issues. They're hitting everyone in education and have been widely reported/ discussed/ debated. Nevertheless I also understand about running things on a tight budget and while there are bound to be difficult decisions to be made, what you admit about the woeful state of pastoral care at your institution is shocking. Any well run medical school would be aware of the vital importance of pastoral care given the pressures of medical training. Leaving students without any preventative or ameliorative pastoral care until it was too late is utterly appalling and you've stated here quite clearly that that was the case where you worked. Really dreadful.

On an irrelevant point, I don't agree that the content of a medical degree is more challenging than many other degrees, there's just rather a lot of it, which obviously creates a pressure all of it's own. But it's not difficult per se - other subjects are far more intellectually challenging.

Booboostoo Tue 27-Jan-15 08:39:08

My direct experience is from 10 years ago, then I moved from teaching medical students to teaching doctors. Can you please provide some evidence for your claims? Which are these medical schools, what are the numbers of drop outs, where did you find the numbers and where is the huge increase in the last few years you imply exists?

Do medical students drop out? Yes at about 10%
Is that welcome? No, not by anybody. It makes no sense financially for the Unis, it is a waste of resources, but it may be better for a student to move to another field if medicine is not the right career choice for them.
Should something be done about it? Sure, of course all students should have excellent pastoral care, as well as all professionals having support to avoid high MH rates and suicide rates in medicine.
Can something be done about it? Feel free to donate your extra cash as HE is as cash strapped as the NHS.

Pastoral care was not bad only at my institution, it is bad in all medical schools. I explain how it is organised and why it is bad, please explain your solution and how you would fund it. You also need to fund office space and office supplies for all these hundreds of tutors, don't forget.

Pastoral care is poor in other areas, e.g. in my next job I had 28 pastoral care students, an impossibly large number considering that pastoral care is only effective if you have a personal relationship with the students. Colleagues had up to 60 students and this was in the humanities.

Medicine is a degree like no other. It makes incredible academic demands, from punishing contact hours to a wide range of academic challenges, from memorising facts, to developing diagnostic skills, to writing a concise summary of a medical history. They are taught pathology, chemistry, anatomy, but also languages, communication skills, law and ethics. In addition character development is crucial from day one; our students met volunteer patients in semester one and needed the maturity to deal with real people with real problems. Tell me one other subject that is even close to that.

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 09:34:26

Pastoral care is not bad at all medical schools Booboo and I'm not sure how you can claim that. It's very good at Oxford for example. I understand it's excellent at Cambridge too. You didn't actually explain how pastoral care was organised at the place you used to work at, you merely said it didn't exist and it couldn't exist because there was not the available funding. My solution, obviously, would be to re-organise funding and re-prioritize but without looking at the books I couldn't tell you how exactly, obviously. It's just so blindingly obviously necessary that I'm amazed you can be complacent about it especially given how tough you say a medical degree is, which I accept (I only quibbled with the idea that it's intellectually harder, which it isn't).

Mindgone the statistics will be out there somewhere and might well be useful to read before your DC makes a decision. 'Dropping out' because a student doesn't like the course or can't cope or gets depressed is not quite what this is about; it's about being failed and being required to leave. Current students will be well aware which schools have a reputation, so it's worth asking around, or asking the schools who make offers before your DC accepts.

peteneras Tue 27-Jan-15 10:01:16

”. . . and isn't her DS at the top medical school in the country?”

Molio, I don’t keep a record of whose DC goes where and to what medical school. I have much more urgent things to deal with as it stands.

And which is the so-called, ”top medical school in the country”? Please enlighten us.

peteneras Tue 27-Jan-15 10:03:46

”But Booboo some schools have a reputation for taking on too many, more than they have space for subsequent years.”

By what authority and on what evidence have you to come out with such outrages statement, Molio? I hate to say this (honestly) but you’re allowing your imagination to run wild again. It is not the first time nor the second time but on numerous occasions here and elsewhere you have said the same that there are medical schools reputed to so-called ‘cull students’. Say it too often and it becomes the (unfounded) belief in the minds of new readers and prospective medics that your assumption is now ‘factual’. I see there is already a poster asking precisely about this very subject less than twelve hours ago.

Booboo knows his/her stuff and one of the very few ( funnyperson, are you there?) who talks absolute sense and facts here. His/her postings on this page deserve a place on MN’s ‘Hall of Fame’! As opposed to others suggesting doing graduate medicine to someone who’s already failed school-leaver medicine.

alreadytaken Tue 27-Jan-15 10:07:21

thank you, molio, but I'm no longer as well informed as I was on the admission process as I'm not involved with it this year. When I was first asked, many years ago, to help a friend's child I soon discovered that they knew more than I did, The best source of information is geenerally current applicants because the most committed know the odds and research well. There is a great deal of information out there and the Student Room website is a good place to start.

Yes I have a medic child at Cambridge, where all first year medics passed last year. There is academic research linking drop out rates to A level grades and you would therefore expect a higher pass rate at Cambridge with its higher grade requirements. I know some students have to resit exams but I supect resitting an entire year may be less common than in other medical schools. It is a very pressurised environment and the colleges seem to differ in the quality of pastoral support.

It's extremely difficult to get information from medical schools about failure rates but if pushed hard enough they may say at open days. In my view it would be a legitimate use of the Freedom of Information Act to find out. We went to one medical school that were open about setting a pass rate in some years to deliberately fail a percentage of students, most did pass the resits. Not sure I can remember which one it was, my OH may.

The medical edcation process gives students the confidence to take difficult decisons quickly when necessary believing they will do more good than harm. The need for that in general practise, where most doctors work, is less than in hospital and some of the drop-outs might possess qualities that would make them better gps than some of those who pass. Doctors can rationalise the failure rate as a necessary evil - and the medical school justified their policy as "maintaining standards", ignoring any fluctuations in the standard of admissions between years. We were not impressed.

There is some academic research about drop out rates showing that the best predictor of who will stay the course is A level grades, perhaps because the highest grades are usually a proxy for organisation and hard work. With increasing competition for places in medical schools the drop out rates ought to be falling. I think I had some figures at one stage showing that was the case overall.

There are GMC reports on medical schools, infrequent but you might find them interesting.
National Student Satifaction surveys will also highlight problems, students at Kings complained of the Colleges response to that.

titchy Tue 27-Jan-15 10:25:11

No FoI required - go to Unistats. Select medicine courses and look at continuation rates. (NB medicine continuation rates across the sector are higher than for any other subject area.)

titchy Tue 27-Jan-15 10:26:09

You won't get the reason those handful didn't continue to the next year, but and FoI wouldn't reveal this anyway as the numbers are too low.

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 11:04:01

Ok well peteneras has given us the statistics for her DS's cohort at KCL and it's perhaps not a surprise that alreadytaken has flagged up an issue with student satisfaction: 15% failure rate in the first year, 10% in the second year and 15% in the third year. peteneras appears to have access to the individual results data and has confirmed that some of those students failed by 1% on a single paper having done magnificently elsewhere. One has to assume peteneras knows what she's talking about (on this at least smile). Even assuming that some of those re-sit, pass and get re-admitted, a lot won't and don't. So even without being a mathematician, that's a lot of lives at least temporarily wrecked. There are other schools have the same sort of reputation. I'm sure a proud parent will take from that huge failure rate that her child is top of the pops in the medical world but I tend to prefer the responsible attitude of the schools which take on much more approximately the right number of students at the outset and see them, with appropriate pastoral care and interventions where necessary, right through the course. Naturally some will choose to drop out, but jumping isn't the same as being pushed and the recovery time will be shorter.

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 11:07:31

titchy I think there may be a problem at individual schools. For the reasons given by alreadytaken it should be no surprise that continuation rates are high across the medical sector. I expect that would hold good for all the high entry courses and may partly explain the low drop out rates across the board at Oxford and Cambridge.

In answer to your question peteneras - surely Cambridge smile

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 11:10:41

PS peteneras that's a good natured wind up. Please, please don't hit us (again) with statistics as to why London schools are the best smile

FlowerFairy2014 Tue 27-Jan-15 11:22:52

It's a difficult issue. When I sat law 50% failed the finals and that was to control numbers only to the number of lawyers we needed. Now most pass who get on the courses and at least half probably don't get jobs and don't therefore qualify. That now is a market which is more free and I think is better but it does mean people need to go into it with their eyes open and if they are not really that bright realise the risk they are taking that they probably will not get a job. Medicine has different entrance barriers and what looks like a fairly high failure rate although plenty of students do change minds. When mym daughter went to Bristol she got a reserve place at her preferred hall and was told to turn up anyway as every September apparently they got a good few students just deciding not to turn up or take a gap year or give university a miss (and indeed there was a room for her at the inn as it were as so many had not turned up at the last minute).

Booboostoo Tue 27-Jan-15 12:15:39

molio you are really not managing to read my posts. Pastoral care is organised via the people who do the majority of the teaching, I.e. the clinical staff on the NHS. They are usually run off their feet looking after patients that they struggle to meet the basic requirements of teaching let alone 'luxuries' like pastoral care. You are seriously suggesting that you could look at the NHS and HE books and find hundreds of thousands of pounds sitting around waiting to be used for pastoral care?!

In any case pastoral care has little to do with students who fail their course. It actually takes quite a lot to fail a course, between resist, mitigating circumstances and appeals a student has to really be struggling to fail. Medical students also learn pretty quickly that they must support each other academically because the end goal is not the degree but professional competence. The weak student next to you should be helped to come up to standard because beating him in the ranks is not the aim; the aim is to have a competent medical team in practice, when people's lives are at stake. Medics do not practice in isolation to each other.

This discussion reminds me of a time I had to convince a student that the 100% pass requirement for a CPR exam was fair despite other courses having a 40% pass requirement. Getting 50, 70 or even 99% of the CPR procedure does not make you good enough to be a resus medic!

Booboostoo Tue 27-Jan-15 12:27:57

By the way one learns very little from QA assessment.

Consider this insider's story: I just looked athe report for the medical school I was part of carried out the years I was there. Parts are correct, they identified the most innovative and popular course correctly. Parts are fiction. They identify an accessibility programme that was a horrific failure. This programme helped students from an underprivileged background, which happened to coincide with a specific ethnicity, do a foundation course and join the medical school via this in conventional route. 12 students entered the first year the programme rum, one remained by year three. I had this one student come to my office (open plan and shared with7 other people, so not exactly conducive to intimate, pastoral care discussions) on numerous occasions in his third year, always in tears because he felt too much pressure to do well. Because he was the last person left from the programme he felt that any failure on his part would reflect badly not only on widening access but also on his home town and his entire ethnicity. It is disgusting that this programme was hailed as a success.

titchy Tue 27-Jan-15 12:29:54

KCL has 96% continuation rate according to Unistats......

Needmoresleep Tue 27-Jan-15 12:39:50

I know nothing so a question instead. Doesn't Kings have a reputation for taking a number from poorly performing schools/non traditional backgrounds accepting slighly lower than normal school qualifications. In contrast Oxford/Cambridge/Imperial and one or two others seem to attract the more academic students interested in more research orientated careers. If so a higher fail rate at the first could be predicted.

My DD will be aplying to medical school next year. In what could be considered an innovative approach to work experience she seems to be making an extraordinary number of trips to A&E. (I'm not serious, though her latest accident was so bizarre I was tempted to take her to St Georges in the hope she could appear on 24 Hours in A&E.) Last time trauma was very quiet and the junior doctor talked a bit about his medical school experience, the main message being that getting into medical school was only the start. This was tough enough but it would continue to get harder and harder. She should only consider it if she was prepared for 5 years hard slog and tough exams at the end of each year.

Interesting in that the getting into medical school already seems like a hurdle race: GCSE grades, work experience, volunteering, AS level grades, UKCAT preparation, then UCAS and interviews. Good to be reminded that getting there is only the start, not the finish.

Not long back someone posted about tutors and whether a tutor was reasonable to charge for marking additional homework the mother had demanded was set. It transpired that the daughter was an A level student prone to "laziness", and was being tutored in all her subjects because entry to medical school was "so competitive". My sense is that there is a bit of an arms race out there, with an industry building up to provide advice and help. I assume medical schools know what they are looking for (though equally have heard doctors despair at some of the students they have come across) but that one or two well prepped kids who perhaps should not be there, will slip through.

Onceuponatimetherewas Tue 27-Jan-15 12:48:17

It may be worth appealing if the reason she didn't disclose the anorexia in mitigation was because she didn't realise she had it (no doubt that can be part of the condition in itself?) But I would consider very carefully with her whether medicine is right for her. It is likely to become far harder work and more pressurised in later years and then as a trainee doctor. She and you could really come to regret her sticking with medicine, if things go wrong again in the future. Why not look for something less high pressure?
I think that universities say no to someone applying for medicine who has dropped out from or failed a previous medical course. But that may not be all universities.

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 13:33:32

titchy just wondering how you synthesize peteneras's figures of the 15%/10%/15% failure rate in the first three years at KCL and the Unistat figure of 4%?

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 13:44:27

Booboo I'm managing not only to read your posts but understand them too shock. I nevertheless think that if some universities can come up with decent pastoral care then others should too.

I also think the point about high failure rates is worth putting out there then those applying can look at the different statistics themselves.

titchy Tue 27-Jan-15 14:04:53

The devil is in the detail of course Molio. The Unistats data is year one continuers only - so those dropping out at the end of year 2 or more are not included. They also do not show whether someone remains on the same course, so maybe a lot of peteneras' students changed courses or repeated.

Or maybe all these anecdotal figures bandied about should be taken with a pinch of salt?

I remain to be convinced that there is a massive issue with medicine as opposed to any other course. The published stats don't support that premise. I think it's more likely that med students and their parents are far more emotionally invested in their courses than other students, understandably so, and experience massive levels of angst if things go pear shape and are much more vocal about it.

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 16:46:57

Agree about devil and detail titchy and also about a need on occasion for salt. But it would be interesting to hear what numbers peteneras think continue at KCL to complete the course, because the later in the course the failure the worse it must be. She appears to be able to analyse the data or scripts and it was her figures that prompted my comment. Rumour has it that KCL isn't alone in large numbers of fails. peteneras posted those figures before (can't remember which thread), I think (but not sure) to show how tough London med schools are and how extraordinarily good those who don't fail must be. So do most of those failing get asked to leave or do most in fact stay and complete? If the latter, then the scores show very little or nothing. Re-sits aren't going to be fun, but they're not on the same scale as being kicked out with a blotchy CV.

FlowerFairy2014 Tue 27-Jan-15 17:42:55

That thesis seems to suggest that those from a more privileged background are less likely to fail. Also is it wrong if people fail? We only want the good ones becoming doctors. If it were easy then we might get people who aren't very good becoming doctors.

enochroot Tue 27-Jan-15 18:10:02

I have a DD in year 5 of 6 at a London med school.

The quest for admittance starts surprisingly early and it seems to be getting earlier. A series of things have to be ticked off which include work experience, extra-curricular activities and top grades across the board.
As each stage was passed in secondary school I was increasingly concerned that DD who had been intent on medicine since before she could possibly understand what was involved, had no plan B. It was clear she would be devastated if she didn't get in and clear too that she could be committing to a course of study she might not be capable of completing.

It has, thankfully, turned out well so far. She failed a PBL exam at the end of Y1 - the first exam she had ever failed. She resat and passed in the summer and it was maybe a wake-up call.
For me it was the first time I was aware that resits were possible and was surprised at the numbers doing two or three resits.

Year two was rocky emotionally. Distance from home, an unfortunate choice of flatmate.....She became depressed. Her tutor that year was unhelpful.

Y3 was better and she had a tutor who gave her support that year. Since then she has recovered her spark and has taken on a SU welfare role. What is clear from talking to her is that a supportive tutor is the luck of the draw but the chance of success and emotional security is increased as time goes on because a cohort becomes more and more closely bonded. She's also much, much happier now with flatmates who are not all studying medicine.

There are those who are unsuited to the profession but who pass their exams and qualify unless there is clear proof that they are unfit to practise. Wastage of med students isn't only about exam failure.

Then there are the overseas students so far from home, some feeling guilty about straying from their cultural norms. Many are working long hours to afford to stay on and are not eating properly. That is the case for many, many home students too particularly in yr 5 & 6 on NHS bursaries.

Over the past 5 years I have been utterly amazed at the intensity with which she studies. They all do. It is relentless but they get a hell of a buzz from it too.

Molio Tue 27-Jan-15 19:11:08

Well it depends doesn't it FlowerFairy:

a) the thesis suggests that those from a less well off background are more likely to fail due to external factors rather than intrinsic suitability for the course and job, so on that basis no, failure isn't measuring the right thing so isn't good.

b) a pass mark can be set at any point in the entire range for a number of purposes so one would have to know the reason behind a mark being set in a particular place before one could decide whether it was good, or bad.

Interesting enoch. I think I recognise you smile Agree about the volume/ intensity. I don't think it would suit any of my DC other than this DS, that life. He too has always wanted to be a doctor since he was a dot - no idea why, we're not medics except for back in Edwardian times - and had no back up plan either and never entered a fifth choice because nothing else was ever going to do. Like your DD he took on a college welfare role and then a university wide one which he enjoyed. Both the college and university have a well established network of identifying problems at an early stage and intervening wherever possible and I'm just glad that he's at a place like that, which takes it seriously, not at an institution which washes its hands. I can't quite get my head round the nexus between good doctoring and lack of welfare on that one, it's just not good enough.

enochroot Tue 27-Jan-15 20:21:34

In a 5 or 6 year course in anything you can go through a variety of emotional states either because of the work or because of other stuff. Whether you come out the other end well-balanced and successful depends on so many things - the randomness of tutors, distance from home, love life, money, accommodation, propensity to bottle up or share problems, etc etc.

However careful the selection process, no one can predict the outcome when there are so many variables.

Welfare is patchy in any organisation. In fact I think DD has better support available at med school than she ever had at school.

UptheChimney Wed 28-Jan-15 12:47:57

And as I was reminded by an encounter with a student I was trying to help last week a tutor can try to help, and the advice be rejected, ignored, or forgotten ...

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