If you haven’t already seen, the University of Chester has approved the construction of a Medical School to be built on Parkgate Road just down the road from the Parkgate campus. Please visit this link for more information on the details here: https://www.chester.ac.uk/node/41135
Chester Students’ Union believe that the initiative for a new medical school is fantastic for students who want to pursue their career in medicine and aspire to be medical practitioners, and are sure that the University will ensure these professional students are properly equipped with the skills to serve our communities. As there are a shortage of doctors, it is believed that we must train and equip students and it would be great to see new doctors coming from Cheshire and Shropshire.
However, Chester Students’ Union had concerns about the Medical School for a number of reasons, such as facilities and support offered to current students. The job of our sabbatical officers is to lobby the University based on the feedback we receive from students, and following the announcement of the University’s plans for a new medical school, we received a number of comments from students, a number of which are outlined below:
“The university can no longer afford to give essential zoo passes to those who study Animal Behaviour.” - The SU have had some clarification from this department and they are offering £30 per eligible student to cover the full ABWAK Associate Membership fee which provides free &/or reduced entry to a range of zoos (but NOT Chester Zoo). In response to requests last year, as some people may wish to mainly visit Chester Zoo (which no longer participates in the ABWAK scheme), they can alternatively offer £30 towards Chester Zoo Annual Student Membership.
“The university can no longer afford to print module handbooks in all departments that contain the essential information for the year.”
“The university cannot afford printing for dissertation projects yet a printed copy is necessity to the submission.”
“Why can’t we have SU/ student spaces on satellite campuses, it is always Parkgate privilege”
“Why should just first year students get all of their core books paid for, what about 2nd and 3rd years. What do we get?”
“The university can’t afford to put on transport for those that are required to complete a placement as part of their degree? Pay it yourself or fail.”
“I know we have been trying to get recorded lectures, but why can’t the University afford a little recorder for each lecture, yet can afford a Medical School..”
“Chester’s Student Union is one of the least funded in the UK.”
“I struggle to take books out of the library because I am based on a different campus, why should I have to pay for my own book as a result of this inconvenience for me, if I can’t cope, how will they”
“Limited coaches available and some teams can’t play in BUCS, we need more for our teams!”
“The thought of Chester having its own medical school is amazing and would benefit the university? However, I think they need to sort all other aspects before opening something new”
From such feedback we organised a meeting with the University’s SMT (Senior Management Team) to clarify our concerns about this initiative. The responses from SMT were as follows:
- What impact will the finances relating to the Medical School have on student support? – In terms of support, the University will be looking into the support we can provide from Student Futures for the future students who will be studying there. There will be no cuts made in Student Support in order to fund the running of the medical school.
- Where will students be doing their placements? And what support for those students has been considered or put in place whilst they are on placement? – Students will be conveniently placed at the Countess for their placements and further opportunities will be available.
- Where will the money be allocated to from the income generated? The medical school will be completely self-sustained and the University will receive funding from the Government in order to establish the medical school. All money generated for the medical school will be coming from the student tuition fees who apply to study at the Medical School.
- Where are the cuts being made to help fund the Medical School – There will be no cuts made across the University in favour of the Medical school, as again is it a self-sustaining initiative.
- Who was present from the NHS in the meeting? Who are they working with from the NHS/ Clinical Commissioning Group going forward? – The University met with a number of key stakeholders regarding the development of the Medical School such as the Department for Health, the General Medical Council, the Countess, Warrington and Shrewsbury hospitals, as well as 12 existing Medical Schools in order to get an idea of how each of them run at other institutions.
- What is happening to the areas of investment for current students that have previously been raised? – SMT will continue to work with the Students’ Union and listen to the student feedback that the National Student Survey released this year and in previous years. Some things will need trialling and budgets will need to be confirmed for the next year.
Chester Students’ Union will:
- monitor and work with the University throughout this new initiative to ensure that there are no cuts being made across the University for the Medical School.
continue to ensure support and opportunities are provided to all students across the University of Chester.
lobby for more funding to ensure students across all sites have equal opportunities to get involved and have more SU presence on each of them.
continue to listen to students and any concerns they may have regarding the Medical School or their overall student experience.
Final point to reiterate:
We are not opposing the creation of the school itself but we are concerned that resources do not get cut to help pay for it.
Chester Students’ Union exists to ensure that students from the University of Chester have the best student experience. Our ambition and goal is to work together to inspire social and educational change by engaging and empowering the student voice.
“Students have been informed by the University on its Portal home page that it is presently exploring the introduction of a Medical School, with the delivery of degrees in Medicine possibly commencing in late 2019.
This would be one of the most significant developments in the history of the University and would position it very favourably for the future in an increasingly competitive higher education market in the UK and internationally.
The initiative is being undertaken in close partnership with a leading and internationally recognised UK university. The proposed Medical School would be fully self-sufficient, using income derived from new, additional funding received from the Government and tuition fees. There would, therefore, be no need for the University to make any reductions to existing services and activities in order to fund the establishment of the Medical School. Discussions surrounding the possible development of a Medical School have been taking place for several years. The University has met with a wide range of interested parties including: the General Medical Council; the Department of Health; the Higher Education Funding Council for England; regional hospital trusts; specialist care providers; general practitioners; existing medical schools and a number of other stakeholders, both in the region and nationally.
In discussing the possible development of a Medical School with a wide range of healthcare providers across Cheshire, Warrington, the Wirral and Shropshire, very positive feedback has been received regarding the University’s proposals. From these expressions of interest the University is very confident, not only that there is a clear demand for a new Medical School, but also that there would also be a sufficient number of high quality placement opportunities available for all Medical students, across a variety of hospital and community settings.
The provision of award-winning support for all students has always been, and will continue to be, an important priority for the University. As part of the development plan, we have been exploring how we would ensure that the support provided to Medical students is also of the highest quality. As such, the University will continue to invest in its Student Futures Department and the high quality services that it provides, together with other facilities and activities for students. There would be no need for any reductions to be made to any of the University’s current operational budgets in order to assist the running of the proposed Medical School.
The University works closely with the Students’ Union and listens carefully to student feedback arising from surveys such as the National Student Survey, First Year Student Experience Survey, Induction Survey and the many surveys that are undertaken at module and programme level, in addition to suggestions via the many CSU and University forums in which students have a voice. A significant number of the matters raised by our students are dealt with quickly and effectively and in responding to student queries we value greatly the constructive relationship we have with the Students’ Union. We will, accordingly, continue to keep all our students updated with the development of the Medical School initiative.”