When I first wrote something about GMC’s recognition of a branch campus of UK University over here exactly 1 year ago, I received few nasty comments saying that I do not know what I am talking about, just speculating, misleading the students and questioning the quality of medical education of this university. Let me clarify that first and foremost, to my knowledge, I never said anything about the quality of medical education of this university. I am very sure the standard will be better than most of the shop-lot medical schools in this country, since it is the same curriculum as in UK with same exams and quality control. However, what I wrote was about the degree international recognition and lack of academics, which is a problem faced by ALL medical schools in this country.
In my said article 1 year ago, I mentioned that just because it is offering the same degree as in UK, it does not mean that it will be internationally recognised. My experience being an academic in another branch campus tells me a lot of how a medical degree recognition works. Despite Monash Malaysia being recognised by Australian Medical Council, it is yet to be recognised by any other country including Singapore, despite already produced 3 batches of graduates.
A month ago I wrote this. In this article I mentioned that even if GMC gives recognition to NuMed Malaysia, the chances of getting an internship post in UK is almost NIL due to prevailing immigration laws and shortage of internship post as mentioned here. It has been clearly mentioned in GMC’s report over here ( see page 9 and B9). It is also mentioned in the university website. I am not particularly worried about Malaysian students at the moment as the job opportunities are still present but what about international students? Even for Malaysian students, when the glut hits us by 2016, where else are you going to work after spending almost RM500K to study medicine? The government sponsored students will obviously be given preference. Malaysia generally DO NOT provide housemanship for foreigners unless you are married to a Malaysian. So, as what is happening to the international students in Monash (only 4 students manage to get internship post in Australia for 2013, all Malaysians), the same situation will happen to NuMed international students.
Now, coming back to the topic above. GMC seem to be in a dilemma regarding this issue. Two weeks ago, it was reported that GMC may implement new rules regarding foreign campuses of UK universities ( see below). The GMC’s report is over HERE. It is very clear that GMC knows that they would not be able to monitor the standards of these branch campuses as how they monitor their own UK universities. At the same time, they can’t just derecognise the degree as it is the same degree. Thus, they are proposing to amend the medical act 1983 to include a separate type of recognition which do not involve the mother university in UK. It may be named as “GMC Overseas Programmes list” etc. However, since this will take a few years as it involves amending the Medical Act, GMC is proposing a PLAB-like exam for graduates from overseas UK branch campuses. GMC also admits in their report that “The work undertaken to date with Newcastle/Malaysia indicates the difficulties facing medical schools seeking to apply our standards overseas because of the organisationally and culturally specific nature of medical practice. The context makes a real difference.”
Saying all this, the immigration law still applies to foreign students. I hope all students are aware of these issues mentioned above. I also hope those who commented on this topic 1 year ago read this latest development.
GMC forced to register medical
students trained overseas
By Abi Rimmer, 17 October 2012
A loophole in NHS legislation allows medical students trained overseas to practise under supervision in the UK, the GMC has warned.
The GMC has asked the DH to amend the Medical Act 1983, so that students who study medicine at a UK institution abroad are not automatically entitled to UK provisional registration.
The regulator raised concerns after UK medical schools established overseas initiatives offering medical degrees to students abroad. Because the courses were offered by UK institutions, the GMC said it was required to regulate them and offer any students who graduated from them a provisional GMC registration.
A report in GMC board papers for its September council meeting said: ‘As things stand the GMC’s statutory framework would result in an entitlement – subject to fitness to practise not being impaired – to provisional GMC registration for students who have trained entirely abroad and may have had limited interaction with patients in English.
‘If such students are granted a UK primary medical qualification, they are eligible for UK provisional registration. In turn, that gives a platform for clinical exposure to UK patients, albeit under supervision.’
The GMC also warned that it had little control in regulating standards at overseas campuses, because ‘the only formal power we have is to withdraw recognition of a UK university completely’.
‘It seems disproportionate to do this if our concerns are limited to the overseas campus,’ the GMC warned. ‘Such an “all or nothing” power is a very blunt instrument.’
The GMC report said it would like to develop a new framework under which it could treat graduates from GMC-approved overseas programmes as holding an acceptable overseas qualification rather than a primary UK qualification.
This would require the DH to amend the Medical Act 1983. But these changes are unlikely to occur for at least three to five years, becuase the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence has told the DH they are not a priority. By this time students in Malaysia and Cyprus will have graduated, the GMC warned.
To provide ‘belt and braces’ assurance, the GMC said it may also include a requirement to pass an assessment equivalent to the professional and linguistic assessments board (PLAB) test – a test for International Medical Graduates to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills and knowledge to practise medicine in the UK.
Existing UK/Overseas Initiatives
- The most advanced initiative is Newcastle/Malaysia, which offers degrees in medicine in Malaysia which ‘are identical to those of Newcastle’s UK-based provision, and lead to the award of the same degrees’.
- Newcastle/Malaysia, received its first students in September 2011. Those students spent their first two years in Newcastle and will graduate in 2014. Subsequent cohorts will undertake their entire study in Malaysia.
- St George’s, London, has established a similar initiative with the University of Nicosia, the largest private university in Cyprus, to offer the St George’s graduate-entry 4-year MBBS (Bachelor in Medicine and Bachelor in Surgery) programme in Cyprus, the GMC said. St George’s University of Nicosia admitted its first students in 2011, who will graduate in 2015.