The facts about medical degree selection

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

The University of Adelaide occasionally receives questions from the public and the media about its entry procedures for Medicine and the number of places available in Medicine.

In the interests of raising awareness of these issues, the following frequently asked questions and answers have been prepared:

Q: Why has X, Y, Z top student not been able to get into Medicine at the University of Adelaide, even though they received full marks/almost full marks?

A: Entry into the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery program at the University of Adelaide is highly competitive, with 2140 applications received this year from all over Australia. This was a 15% increase over last year when 1861 people applied.

There are 144 places (40 more than in 2006) for Australian students, with demand far exceeding supply, so we cannot offer everyone a place. The average TER for successful applicants is over 99.

High marks alone do not always mean you'll make a great doctor. Many universities and professional bodies believe that other qualities are invaluable in potential doctors.

To make sure that the most suitable candidates are chosen, applicants for the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery program must satisfy specific admission requirements. These involve a three-stage selection process. Applicants are judged equally on their TER score and interview score (weighting of 40% each), with a 20% weighting given to the University Medical Admission test (UMAT).

These requirements are different to entry into most other courses, which is usually based on TER (Tertiary Entrance Rank) scores alone.

Q: Is South Australia's selection process similar/different to other States?

A: The three-tiered entry system is used by most Australian medical schools. It has been judged the fairest method of selecting the best students.

Q: Who runs the UMAT tests?

A: The Australian Council for Educational Research runs UMAT.

In 2006, almost 14,000 people in total sat for the test in Australia and overseas to apply for a place in undergraduate medicine around the country. Of those, 1006 were from South Australia. From the 2140 applicants to the MBBS course at the University of Adelaide, 613 applicants were invited to the Oral Assessment interview.

The University of Adelaide is pleased to be in such high demand for Medicine, both nationally and internationally, as it reflects the quality of our programs - a fact recognised by the Australian Medical Council's full accreditation of our Medical School.

Q: How many places in Medicine are offered to Australian students at the University of Adelaide?

A: In 2007, 144 places will be offered to Australian students. These include the 11 places allocated to students under the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship, which requires students to practice medicine in a rural or remote setting for six years after graduation.

Q: Why can't the University of Adelaide reserve places for South Australians?

A: This would be unconstitutional. By law, the University must accept applications from all states and territories and cannot discriminate in favour of local students. Almost all candidates from interstate apply to more than one university but only about half of the South Australians who apply for entry into Medicine in Adelaide have applied elsewhere.

Q: Why can't the University offer more places?

A: The Federal Government allocates the number of places all universities can take for medical students from Australia. The universities have no say in that number.

The Australian Medical Workforce Advisory Committee regularly advises Government on the number of places, based on information about what is happening in the health sector. This has recently resulted in new medical schools being created in Victoria and NSW, aimed at increasing the number of medical graduates nationwide.

So, to recap: there will be 144 Australian students studying first-year Medicine at the University of Adelaide in 2007. The number of places is entirely regulated by the Federal Government.

Q: Aren't overseas students taking places away from local students?

A: No. The number of overseas medical students has nothing to do with the allocation for Australian students provided by the Government. The University is allowed to accept students from overseas in addition to its Australian student allocation.

The number of overseas students starting Medicine at the University in 2007 is 20.

Q: Why do we take overseas students?

A: The numbers of overseas students and Australian students are determined separately. The actual numbers and the reasons for determining them have no correlation.

The University of Adelaide has been accepting international students into Medicine for more than 50 years, and has done so proudly. We have trained whole generations of doctors who have gone on to become leaders in their respective fields in Australia and around the world.

Q: There are too few doctors in country areas - why doesn't the University do something about it?

A: For many years now the University of Adelaide has sought to increase the number of students accepted into Medicine from rural areas. The University offers Rural Medical Scholarships to help country students offset the costs of studying Medicine and relocating to live in Adelaide.

In 2006 the University negotiated with the South Australian Government for 5 new Rural Bonded positions. For the first time in 2007, South Australian Bonded Medical Scholarships have been made available to support our future medical practitioners who must, in turn, work in rural areas of South Australia. The Commonwealth also funds 6 Rural Bonded Scholarships for University of Adelaide graduates to work across Australia in areas of need.

The University recognises that medical students who come from the country are much more likely to return to country areas when they have achieved their qualifications. However, the fact is that only a small number of rural South Australian students apply for entry to Medicine at the University of Adelaide each year, despite a serious shortage of doctors in country areas.

There are many other programs and initiatives that the University is involved in to improve the level of service to rural areas. These include research to better understand doctors' motivations for staying in the country, and teaching programs that raise awareness among all medical students of practising in rural areas.

Q: What if I do not get a place in Medicine in the University of Adelaide in 2007?

A: In 2007, up to 30 places have been made available under the Tertiary Transfer Scheme, whereby students in other undergraduate programs within the University can apply to transfer to the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree. In the past, successful Tertiary Transfer applicants have come from such diverse fields as Commerce, Law, Mathematics, Science and Health Science.

Eight universities (University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, University of Queensland, Griffith University, Notre Dame University (WA), University of Western Australia, Flinders University and the Australian National University) in Australia offer graduate entry courses in medicine. Applicants are encouraged to undertake the Bachelor of Health Science course, and to apply as a graduate to one of the graduate medical courses.

The University's Faculty of Sciences offers courses relevant to medicine within the Bachelor of Science and various named degrees, including the BSc (Biomedical Science), BSc (Molecular Biology) and BSc (Biotechnology). Many graduates from these courses proceed to postgraduate medicine.

To apply for 2008 entry you will need to make fresh applications to SATAC and UMAT. The UMAT score is held for 2 years, however candidates are advised that the score leading to invitation to the Oral Assessment may vary from year-to-year.

More information about entry into Medicine at the University of Adelaide can be found here:

More information about courses in Sciences:

More information about UMAT can be found here:


Contact Details

Mr David Ellis
Media and Communications Officer
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762