Other concerns and issues raised by respondees
20. A number of respondees who were supportive of the proposal to remove the prohibition, or who raised no objections, did so on the understanding that this would not be determinative of the University's ability to award degrees in medicine and dentistry. However, a number of those respondees raised concerns about the potentially adverse impacts on the medical and dentistry education and training environment should the University deliver its own degree in either of those subjects in future. This was particularly within the context of the 2019 PfG commitment to develop proposals for a new medical school which the University had submitted a bid for.
21. Not all respondees were concerned about the University becoming a new medical or dentistry degree provider in future, however, and some were supportive of this.
22. The main comments received regarding the University potentially becoming a new medical or dentistry degree provider in future, and the separate PfG process to develop proposals for a new medical school, are summarised as follows:
- New medical school capacity should be balanced by access to the necessary clinical teaching exposure and also enhanced capacity to recruit from rural and deprived areas, preferably for Scottish domiciled students.
- The development of a new medical school should continue to be considered as a very separate process and initiative to the current proposal to put St. Andrews University in a similar legal position to all other Scottish universities.
- It is important that any proposals for a new medical school are judged against the impact on existing medical education, availability of clinical placements, and that foundation places would increase also so that posts are made available for all graduates who wish to work in Scotland.
- St. Andrews University becoming a medical degree provider could lead to the position whereby there would be 4 medical schools along the East coast of Scotland and only 1 in the West of Scotland. This may cause significant educational capacity issues with the Health Boards along the East Coast of Scotland should clinical placements be local to the medical schools.
- There could be added complexity faced by NHS clinicians working with multiple curricula and assessments from different universities should there be an additional medical degree provider in Scotland.
- Further expansion of medical student places to meet workforce needs can be accomplished most rapidly and with the least disruption by expanding places in the existing medical school programmes rather than allowing an additional institution to offer medical degrees. The impact of extra students on an established curriculum would be easier to manage.
- There is some overlap of clinical placements between medical schools on the East Coast, particularly in NHS Fife, but there is sufficient capacity for clinical placements in the South East and East coast of Scotland for the University of St. Andrews to also deliver its own medical degree. The Board for Academic Medicine and informal meetings of Heads of Medicine and informal meetings of Heads of Medical Schools and programmes would be able to provide a good forum in which those issues could be addressed. Within Scotland's world leading and excellent university sector the Medical Schools are of particular strength and the inclusion of St Andrews as a fully-fledged Medical School will only enhance the standing of Scottish medicine in medical education and research across the world.
23. Separately to concerns regarding the University becoming a medical or dentistry degree provider in future in its own right, one respondee raised concerns about the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament to repeal paragraph 17 of schedule 6 to the 1966 Act.