National MedSoc Petition on UKFPO Changes to Educational Achievements
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Following the response from students across the UK, we as the National MedSoc, a consortium of Student Bodies which represent medical students across the United Kingdom, have decided to petition the UKFPO. We wish to address concerns regarding the UKFPO’s recent announcement around the use of additional Educational Achievements (EAs) in FPAS rankings. We also note that the Medical Schools Council (MSC) have raised similar concerns in their letter dated 10th December 2020.
The UKFPO have proposed to remove the additional EAs, which include additional degrees and up to two publications, from the application process for those applying to start their foundation placements in 2023 (academic year 2022-2023). The UKFPO states that, as more students now seek EAs, they are no longer a useful discriminator of student performance. Additionally, they highlight that the inclusion of EAs has implications for widening participation and students with financial hardships.
Whilst the student body may have differing opinions on the decision itself, we believe the rapid rollout and lack of transparency behind this announcement is concerning. It is now evident that more inclusive and transparent discussions are needed to better understand how this decision may impact current and future students as well as whether it is in fact the optimal way forward.
With this in mind, we call for the following:
1. Delay implementation until 2028.
The UKFPO should delay the change until the academic year of 2027-2028. This would allow every student currently studying a medical degree or associated Widening Participation foundation programme to complete their studies without impact. Anything less marks an unfair change in expected outcomes, imposed after students may have made time or financial commitments in order to improve their future prospects in accordance to what the current framework allows.
A delay until the academic year of 2027-2028 protects the following groups:
- All current students who are intercalating or have already intercalated during their third or fourth year of study. Members of these cohorts are expected to graduate in the 2024-2025 academic year at the latest.
- All graduate-entry students in a four-year or five-year graduate-entry course. Members of these cohorts are expected to graduate in the 2024-2025 academic year at the latest.
- All students who are currently in the first year of a five-year undergraduate course or six-year undergraduate course. Members of these cohorts are expected to graduate in the 2025-2026 academic year at the latest.
- Lastly, all students who are in the first year of a recognised Widening Participation foundation programme directly linked to a medical degree. Members of this cohort who intercalate are expected to graduate in the 2026-2027 academic year at the latest.
Finally, we are concerned about sudden drop-offs in the take-up of intercalated degrees moving forwards. This would inflate cohorts to the extent that medical schools cannot sustain the capacity of their clinical placements, and in turn Foundation School jobs.
2. Increase meaningful student consultation.
The UKFPO has in the past made multiple decisions with inadequate student input and little transparency to the decision-making process. The most recent example of this is the UKFPO’s approach to this year’s SJT, which drew criticism for: releasing booking slots at an unreasonable and non-advertised time, refusing to release model answers for their new question style, and providing inadequate support for students with reasonable adjustments. Despite many attempts to establish communications with the UKFPO and address these issues, meaningful discussions were not held and many students were disappointed with the UKFPO’s response. This has caused significant unrest among students and loss of confidence in the system as a whole.
We therefore request:
- (a) Meaningful and respected consultation on the removal of EAs from the UKFP process which involves a broad variety of medical students from across the country in addition to the BMA, MSC and other representative bodies, without which no decision on the removal of EAs can be implemented.
- (b) Transparent details of the UKFPO’s prior consultations with the BMA, MSC, other representative bodies and students directly, surrounding the recent decision to remove EAs from the UKFP process.
- (c) The creation of a transparent and respected consultancy process to be used for any important future decisions. This consultation should involve a broad variety of medical students from across the country in addition to the BMA, MSC and other representative bodies. Opinions expressed during this process should be respected and appropriately considered.
3. Using evidence based methods.
When decisions are made, we ask for full transparency and an evidence-based approach so that all parties can reach their own informed conclusions.
Therefore, if the UKFPO feels that their changes will better reflect student performance and help students in the long-term, it must publish its evidence base upon which decisions are made and expand on its rationale. This will better inform national conversations moving forwards, reassure students, and address the concerns regarding the scale of the impacts this change will have in the long term.
In this particular case, we call on the UKFPO to expand on their ‘concerns around the implications of the EA score in terms of widening participation’, and to publish their measures of postgraduate performance and the data showing the SJT to be a ‘significantly stronger predictor of postgraduate performance than the EPM by all measures’. We agree that Foundation Application points should be attained based on predictors of postgraduate performance, however this should be evidence-led and take into account any other important factors.
Hence, we call on the UKFPO to release:
- (a) Evidence and expanded reasoning showing the impact that removing EAs has on widening participation.
- (b) The list of measures of postgraduate performance used to compare the usage of SJT scores with the EPM.
- (c) The data used in the justification that the SJT is a ‘significantly stronger predictor of postgraduate performance’ than the use of the EPM.
4. A commitment to Widening Access.
As representatives for medical students across the country, we firmly believe that widening access to EAs is important for all. The training pathway should encourage and promote diversity of educational opportunities to help create the most well-rounded doctors, rather than discourage students from these pursuits. We want to ensure that any action intended to widen access has a solid evidence base which includes consultation from students and experts from a widening participation background. This is to ensure such decisions do not, in turn, detriment the very people they are meant to support.
With this in mind, we request the following from the UKFPO:
- (a) Full consideration of the overall impact the suggested changes to the UKFP process may have on widening access both in the short and long term.
- (b) A commitment to widening access which includes an action plan outlining other measures which the UKFPO proposes to reduce this gap.
This is a time-sensitive issue that has caused distress and will impact many students, especially postgraduates, those who are currently undertaking intercalated degrees, and those who intend to in the near future. We therefore call upon the UKFPO to give an open, transparent and prompt response to all points mentioned above, addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of the National MedSoc.
Ultimately, we are reasonably calling for an initial delay of the immediate rollout, and full transparency of the decision-making process and evidence-base behind the proposals so we can all reach our own informed conclusions.
National MedSoc is composed of:
Anglia Ruskin Medical Students Society
Barts and The London Students’ Association (BLSA)
Brighton & Sussex Medical School Medical Society
Bute Medical Society St Andrews
Edinburgh Medical Students Council
Galenicals, University of Bristol Medical Students’ Society
Guy’s, King’s & St Thomas’ (GKT) Medical Students’ Association
Imperial College School of Medicine Students' Union (ICSMSU)
Kent and Medway Medical Society
Lancaster University MedSoc
Leicester University Students’ Union Medical Association
Liverpool Medical Students' Society
Osler House, Oxford
Oxford Medical Student’ Society
Royal Free, University College and Middlesex Medical Students Association (RUMS)
St George’s Students Union
University of Central Lancashire Medical Society
University of Dundee MBChB Student Council
University of East Anglia MedSoc
University of Glasgow Medico-Chirurgical Society
University of Lincoln Medical Society
University of Sheffield MedSoc
University of Southampton MedSoc
University of Warwick MedSoc
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