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Why students from under-represented backgrounds do not apply to medical school

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Medicine is the most competitive undergraduate course at university, and admission processes have been shown to favour those applicants from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Emphasis has been placed on widening participation initiatives to combat this; however, the effects of these have been minimal. Identifying reasons why students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are not represented in the medical school population is the main driver for this study. Using a focus group methodology, pupils from a socio-economically disadvantaged secondary school in the UK were asked about their perceptions and attitudes towards studying medicine at university. Using thematic analysis guided by Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital, key areas were identified concerning student views upon perceptions of self, expectations of self, perception of university and the perceived barriers to medical schools. The study has shown a lack of knowledge and guidance in this group of secondary school students, suggesting that more innovative methods of outreach are required in order to make medicine a more achievable goal for students from under-represented backgrounds.
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Keywords: BARRIERS; DISADVANTAGE; EXPECTATIONS; OPPORTUNITY; PERCEPTION; SCHOOL PUPILS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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