University of Southampton BM6 Programme
The University of Southampton also runs a six-year medical degree programme, ‘BM6’, with the aim of widening access to medicine for students from more diverse backgrounds and providing them with the support they need to succeed both on the course and in the profession. Some students on the course are carers, and others work as well as study. These students face extra stresses, and are often required to undertake family duties at short notice. Others face a weight of expectation, not only from their families but sometimes from the wider community too.
The admission process for the BM6 degree programme makes use of contextual information and tailored interviews, and the academic entry requirements are lower. Students must meet specific eligibility criteria relating to their socio-economic background, but students are not expected to have healthcare-related work experience.
A specially designed preliminary year, ‘Year 0’, allows students time to address any gaps they may have in knowledge or attainment and to develop their confidence so they can continue to Year 1 of the degree programme. Between 2002 and 2012, an average of 90% of students progressed successfully to Year 1 of the course.
I believe the BM6 scheme is essential in encouraging those into medicine who would otherwise not have had the opportunity or believed they had the ability. It has helped my confidence and belief in myself that I can do it, and it's great to see my other friends from BM6 grow in the same way. I hope to be a GP when I have finished studying
BM6 student at Southampton
A unique part of the Year 0 curriculum is the Professional Practice modules. Students go on a range of observational healthcare placements, enabling them to gain experience in environments that previously they might have found inaccessible. The modules allow more time to focus on developing professionalism, which can be important for those students who are less likely to have professionals as role models in their lives.
The BM6 programme has been successful in attracting students from non-traditional backgrounds. There has been more than 60% participation on the course from those who are the first in their family to go to university. Likewise, the percentage of students who (independently or through their families) receive a means-tested benefit or the education maintenance allowance has been consistently above 98%.