How To Successfully Apply to UK Medical Schools From the United Arab Emirates
Advice & Insight From Medicine Application Specialists
Students from across the world apply to UK medical schools, which is unsurprising given the country’s position as a global leader in healthcare and education. There are four UK medical schools in the top 10 globally – Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and UCL, and two more in the top 20 – Edinburgh and King’s College London.
If you are a student in the UAE thinking about applying to a UK medical school, the following will provide an overview of some key information that should be borne in mind from the outset when progressing through the final stages of high school and the application process to medical school.
Grade Requirements for Students applying to Medicine from the UAE
Ideally, you should have studied at an institution that provides the IB (International Baccalaureate) rather than the GSEC. If you have taken the IB, individual requirements for each university will differ, but will generally be around a minimum of 36 points, with 18 in Higher Level subjects to include 6,6 or 7,6 in Chemistry and Biology.
If you have not taken the IB, then you will likely have to take a foundation year. Here are some examples of UK university requirements for those that have not taken the IB:
King’s College London explains that the ‘General Secondary Education Certificate Examination is not considered suitable for direct entry to undergraduate study at King’s. Applicants may wish to consider taking one of our International Foundation programmes.’
Oxford, likewise, states that the ‘Tawjihiyya (General Secondary Education Certificate/GSEC) would not be sufficient for candidates to make a competitive application’ meaning that students would have to have completed a foundation year in order to apply, although information on the foundation year is less readily available.
Edinburgh explains that ‘applicants with the Tawjihiyya (Secondary School Certificate) will usually be required to complete a foundation year.’
You should speak to the admissions teams at the universities that you are applying to in order to clarify their position and understand what you need to do in order to put in a competitive application.
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Finances/Fees for Medicine in the UK
Studying Medicine in the UK is expensive. Compared to a US school, this expense will seem less – but it still is a huge amount of money, and an amount that has increased in recent years. As a rough figure, you should expect to pay around £30,000 per year at the Russell Group universities. This figure may be more or less, and the price will not necessarily reflect the prestige of the institution. An example is Manchester, which charges £27,000 per year for pre-clinical years and £46,000 for the clinical years.
Job prospects in the UK and in the UAE
The majority of jobs available for doctors in the UAE are for consultants and senior specialists. You would require two years’ work as a specialist in a Tier 1 country like the UK in order to work as a consultant in the Gulf (this would be 8 years in non-Tier 1 countries). There are very few opportunities available to junior doctors in the UAE, meaning that transitioning from the UK to the UAE straight after completing your MBChB or MBBS (or straight after completion of Foundation Year 2) in the UK would not be possible in most cases.
Of course, jobs in the UK are a far more attractive prospect, as all UK graduates will be able to receive a guaranteed offer of employment in the National Health Service. Where you would be employed depends on performance at medical school and subsequent performance in a situational judgement test. After completion of the foundation training years, doctors in the UK will take between three and eight further years to finish their training, depending on the route that they take.
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3 Key Tips for Applying to UK Medical Schools from the UAE
Firstly, you should ensure that your application is built up through work experience and volunteering whenever possible. UK universities require that you show an understanding of the degree and the dedication that it requires, and that you show altruism and empathy. You will therefore do well to begin community activities and volunteering early, and to organise work experience well in advance.
You should practice interview questions with UK medical students or doctors, in order to understand what will be expected of you when sitting an MMI in the UK.
Lastly, you should ensure that you focus on the UCAT and/or BMAT well in advance, and work through as many practice questions as possible. You should use practice questions that have worked solutions in order to learn from your mistakes. Certain universities rely heavily on these examinations – research which ones, as a great score could almost guarantee you an interview.