Studying Medicine in the UK: Information for International Students

Admissions

2021-04-17

Top six reasons to study medicine in the UK: top ranked medical schools, choice of undergraduate and graduate medicine, research options, high teaching quality, great job prospects and networking opportunities

How do I get into medicine in the UK?

Each university has its own requirements and varies on which non-UK qualifications that it accepts, but broadly speaking you need to: 

1. Excel academically

Usually requires AAA at A-levels, 36 points or above in International Baccalaureate, or equivalent international qualification. Biology and chemistry are usually required. Check the full requirements, including specific subjects that must be taken.

2. Get a high score in the UCAT or BMAT exams

The UCAT and BMAT are also significant hurdles to getting into medical school. These exams test more than just academic skills, they are an overall assessment of your suitability for medicine.

The UCAT covers:

Verbal reasoning
Verbal Reasoning Critically evaluating written material
Decision making
Decision Making
Making appropriate decisions in complex situations
Quantitative reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning
Assess and evaluate numerical information
Abstract reasoning
Abstract Reasoning
Using both convergent and divergent thinking styles
Situational judgement
Situational Judgement
Testing your reasoning against real-life situations

The BMAT consists of:

BMAT section 1
Section 1
Critical thinking and problem solving
BMAT section 2
Section 2
Biology, chemistry, physics and maths
BMAT section 3
Section 3
Writing skills

3. Get relevant work experience

Work experience in a healthcare or a related field can help you:

  • Understand what a medical career involves
  • Reflect on your suitability for medicine
  • Develop leadership, communication and teamwork skills

Medical schools have specific work experience requirements, which may be discussed at interview. Check the requirements for your chosen universities before applying for work experience.

4. Extracurricular activities

Get involved in extracurricular activities that nurture and demonstrate your leadership and teamwork skills, including sports, volunteering and fundraising.

A student helping an elderly person in a wheelchair

5. UCAS personal statement

As part of your UCAS application, you need to write a 4,000-word personal statement that shows skills, experience, motivation and qualities that would make you stand out among other applicants. 

Include details about your motivation to study in the UK as an international student and your English proficiency.

6. Prepare for the interview

Medical school interviews assess the qualities and traits that you need to become a successful medical student and doctor, including empathy, maturity, communication and teamwork skills.

Find key facts about specific medical schools’ interview arrangements.

Start preparing for your medical school interview with our Medical Interviews Course.

7. English requirements

Medical schools may require you to take English tests if your first language is not English or if you’ve not studied recently in the UK.

Commonly accepted English tests are:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Most universities require an overall IELTS score of at least 7.0, or a TOEFL (iBT) score of 90-100 or higher. Check your chosen universities’ websites for specific information.

A woman preparing UCAS application

How do I apply?

Submit an application through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) by 15th October 2021. You can do this yourself or through an adviser.

List up to five choices on your UCAS application, but only four of these can be medical courses.
Before you apply, check out open days and events for international students.

Do I need a visa?

Yes, unless you are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, you must apply for a student visa after you’ve been offered a place.

A visa stamp

Tuition fees

The cost of a UK medical degree is around £40,000 per year for international students. From 2021, this includes EU students.

The Hong Kong BNO (British National Overseas) visa, which came into effect on 31/1/21, grants over five million Hong Kong residents permission to live and study freely in the UK for five years, after which they can apply for settlement. Hong Kong BNOs are subject to international tuition fees and are not eligible for student finance until settlement.

London

Cost of living in the UK

The UK government requires international students to have sufficient funds to support themselves (in addition to the tuition fees). This is £1,334 per month if you are studying in London and £1,023 for elsewhere.

The actual budget required will vary greatly depending on your location and lifestyle. Plan your finance using the UCAS Budget Calculator.

Funding

If you are from the Republic of Ireland or have a settled or pre-settled EU status, you may be eligible for a UK student loan.

There are many scholarships available for international students, which vary in terms of:

  • Source: governments, universities, foundations, communities, religious organisations, schools, companies
  • Eligibility: qualifications, intended area of study, nationality, background
  • Amount: range from a one-off partial support to full scholarships that cover your tuition fee and living costs for the duration of your study
  • Application process: one or more of an application form, interview and assignment/test

Search for scholarships (e.g. Scholarship Portal, International Education Financial Aid, International Scholarships) and prepare your application well in advance to maximise your chance of getting a scholarship.

There may be loans available to support your overseas study depending on where you are from. For example, if you are from the U.S.A., you can apply for a Foreign Enrolled Loan. Some banks provide loans at a lower interest rate for students to study overseas.

Is medicine more competitive for international applicants?

There is a quota stipulating the number of international students who can be accepted by UK universities. This makes the process very competitive and it is common for 10-20 applicants to compete for a single place in many medical schools.

Start preparing for medical school admission with Medify to maximise your chances for success.

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