How are medical schools widening participation in medicine?
When Shaun Hang started medical school, the only academic difference between him and his peers was on paper. His A level grades were slightly lower than most of his cohort—but his ability was not. The son of two takeaway chefs, Hang is the first in his family to go to university. He entered medicine via Birmingham University’s Routes to the Professions (R2P) programme. The course is one of the UK’s widening participation initiatives, which help students from less privileged backgrounds into medicine by providing mentoring, support with applications, and “contextual” lower grade offers that take into account applicants’ socioeconomic backgrounds. Contextual factors can include criteria such as whether the applicant comes from a neighbourhood with a low rate of participation in higher education, whether their parents went to university, and whether the applicant has access to extracurricular activities.
Now in his second year, Hang says, “People wouldn’t know [my route