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UK's training reputation under threat

Medical schools that set up satellite campuses abroad could damage the perception of UK education and training, doctors leaders warn.

They maintain that the reputation of higher education and medicine could be at stake if overseas campuses are not regulated to at least the same level as institutions at home.

BMA medical academic staff committee joint deputy chair David Katz outlines several concerns in a letter to the UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association).

He asks UCEA clinical academic staff group chair Peter Kopelman how overseas campuses will be staffed, what the terms and conditions would be for UK medical academics, and whether staff members would be expected to have clinical roles.

Professor Katz queries how UK doctors working overseas would be able to meet the requirements of revalidation.

The MASC has also raised questions around the impact these programmes would have on UK medical workforce planning and competition for foundation programme places.

Professor Katz says: ‘MASC is concerned that there is a possibility that the reputation of UK HE [higher education] and medicine could be damaged if the overseas campuses are insufficiently regulated.’

Overseas campus growth

In response, Professor Kopelman acknowledges that many UCEA member institutions are setting up overseas campuses.

He says: ‘UCEA is not in a position to comment on behalf of institutions on their employment policy and practice, but in recognition of the increasingly international role that UK HE institutions have across the spectrum of transnational HE delivery (ranging from partnerships to offshore campuses), UCEA will provide support for its members with the employment aspects of international HE provision.’

He adds that UCEA would be willing to consider this as an agenda item at the next meeting of the representative forum, which brings together clinical and dental academic staff, employers and other stakeholders.

The GMC has called for new powers to allow it to distinguish between UK medical school programmes that are delivered at home and abroad.

It is asking the Department of Health to change the Medical Act so that only programmes delivered mainly at home can be called primary UK medical qualifications.

Programmes delivered mainly outside the UK would be quality-assured by the regulator but only eligible for inclusion on a new GMC overseas or European programme list.

Read Overseas campuses will not offer UK qualifications