Additional achievements ruled out of foundation programme applications

by Tim Tonkin

Students’ educational achievements will not count towards foundation programme application scores for those entering the foundation programme in 2023, in a move strongly criticised by the BMA medical students committee and medical academic staff committee.

Location: UK
Published: Thursday 10 December 2020

Personal achievements, such as additional degrees and academic publications, will no longer contribute towards the EPM (educational performance measure) element of the foundation programme, the UKFPO (UK Foundation Programme) confirmed this week.

In a letter sent to medical schools dated 30 November, the UKFPO said it had taken the decision to scrap the additional-achievement component on the basis that, with around 70 per cent of applicants seeking points for these achievements, there was now less differentiation between application scores.

Disadvantaged further

It further stated that, with students’ ability to study for additional degrees inconsistent, continuing to award points for additional achievements had the potential to affect widening-participation efforts by disadvantaging those facing financial hardship.   

However, MSC responded with dismay to the announcement, while pledging to continue to support all those likely to be affected by the decision.

It said: ‘MSC and the medical student community have had long-standing objections to the removal of educational achievement [EA] points from the EPM and we are very disappointed this change was announced without proper planning or coordination with interested parties.’

Scoring for applications to foundation programme are out of 100 points and are equally divided between the EPM and the SJT (situational judgement test).

Predictor measures

The EPM itself provides a maximum of 43 points for an applicant’s academic decile, with the remaining seven awarded for additional educational achievements.

In their 30 November letter, UKFPO co-chairs Professor Tom Lawson and Mike Masding confirmed a decision to dispense with additional achievements within the application process was made in February.

They added that a decision on how points are awarded on this basis had yet to be confirmed.

They said: ‘As part of the annual review of the national application process, it was agreed by the Medical and Dental Recruitment and Selection programme board in February 2020 for the additional EA score to be excluded from the total application score for entry to foundation school with effect from UKFPO 2023 (the application process scheduled for October 2022).

‘Furthermore, research exploring the validity of a number of different aspects of undergraduate medical education, suggests that the SJT is a significantly stronger predictor of post-graduate performance than the EPM by all measures.

‘The national recruitment delivery group are currently reviewing the weighting of the academic decile score and the SJT score in light of this change. We will be sure to communicate the details of the new mechanism for scoring applications at the earliest opportunity.’

‘Substantial effort’

The decision to drop educational achievements from the 2023 applications process has met with a mixed response from medical students, with some welcoming the decision while others have expressed concern on how their future applications might be affected.

University of Cambridge MB PhD student Brandon Smith, who us undertaking his second intercalation, expressed his concern at the decision.

He said: ‘I’m astonished that this substantial effort will no longer be recognised. I'm just as dumbfounded that I had to hear about it on Twitter first.’

Meanwhile, University of Warwick medical student Joel Lambert has launched a petition calling for the UKFPO to delay removing EA score until 2025, so that students who have already opted to intercalate for the 2020/21 academic year are not unfairly affected.

Read the letter MSC has sent to the UKFPO, calling on it to withdraw the proposal

If you are concerned about this decision and would like further information or support, please contact the BMA