The General Medical Council (GMC) has given its full approval to two new medical schools, at Anglia Ruskin University's School of Medicine in Chelmsford, and Aston Medical School, part of Aston University in Birmingham.
Both institutions began offering medical tuition in 2016 and the GMC said they have both now completed its "rigorous quality assurance process for new schools". This means they will be added to the list of UK bodies able to award a primary medical qualification.
The decision, ratified by the GMC’s Council, means that the new medical schools will be able to award degrees to graduates for the first time later this year.
'Exciting Moment' for Pioneer Cohort
Professor Helen Cameron, dean of medical education at Aston Medical School, said: "We are proud that through commitment, teamwork, and partnership with our students, we have met the GMC's rigorous quality assurance standards and we look forward to continuing to educate the healthcare leaders of the future."
Dr Sanjiv Ahluwalia, head of the School of Medicine at Anglia Ruskin University, said: "We are looking forward to seeing our first medicine students graduate this summer. Essex has some of the highest patient-GP ratios in the country and one of the ambitions for our School of Medicine is to develop a workforce for the county and the wider region."
Both heads drew attention to the diversity of their student intake. Prof Cameron said: "Our focus on providing excellent education and support to a diverse range of students, including those from disadvantaged communities, has been at the heart of our mission since the school's inception."
Dr Ahluwalia said: "One of our main aims is to ensure there are opportunities for people from all backgrounds to study medicine, and we are proud to have a diverse student body that will serve the profession with distinction in the future."
Professor Aleks Subic, vice-chancellor and chief executive of Aston University, said: "This achievement enables us to continue our mission of developing the next generation of medical professionals, with a particular focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in healthcare education and improving healthcare in the community."
GMC Aims to Maintain 'Quality Assurance'
The GMC said that it operates to ensure that "doctors get the education and training they need to deliver high-quality care throughout their careers", and that this was achieved by setting standards for medical schools, monitoring and inspecting them as well as asking medical students about their experiences and responding to any concerns raised.
It oversees both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and training in the UK and approves training posts, programmes and assessments. Royal colleges and faculties design the curricula for postgraduate specialty and GP training courses, which the GMC then approves, making sure they meet and maintain its standards.
"Any institution looking to establish a new medical school or training programme must demonstrate it meets the GMC’s standards by being subject to an extensive period of quality assurance," the GMC said in its announcement.
Heralding the approval of the new medical schools, Prof Colin Melville, GMC medical director and director of education and standards, said: "The GMC maintains high standards and has a very rigorous process before a new medical school can award primary medical qualifications to its students.
"Both Anglia Ruskin and Aston have worked hard, over a number of years, to meet our quality assurance standards. I’m delighted that, thanks to that hard work, they now have GMC approval to award medical degrees."