pound;50 medic tests will put off poor

21st April 2006 at 01:00
The proposals by 24 university medical schools to introduce the UK Clinical Admissions test for undergraduate admissions from September seems educationally dubious and needlessly expensive for candidates.

How any short, computer-based IQ test can add valid assessment information to approximately 50 hours of timed written assessment these students endure to do A- and AS-levels is unclear. If the universities cannot choose between candidates on the basis of grades, then looking at individual module scores would be far more valid than the tests proposed, and at no further cost.

More worrying is the proposal to charge candidates pound;50. One wonders how much Pearson Publishing is making from this!

Given current attempts to widen university participation amid increasing fees, yet another levy on students may well be regarded as the straw that breaks the camel's back by students from less-than-wealthy backgrounds.

Making bursaries available to students will not reassure those who are getting the idea that higher education and medical training are only for the well-heeled. My college has agreed to pay this charge for our students, thus increasing our assessment budget, already bursting from exam fees imposed by Curriculum 2000.

We already have one of the most expensive exam systems in the world. The least we can do is to trust it to discriminate more effectively than over-priced, computer-based, multiple-choice tests.

Chris Little Careers and higher education manager, St Vincent college Mill Lane, Gosport, Hampshire

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