University of St Andrews - degrees and licenses in medicine and dentistry: consultation

This consultation sought views on removing a legislative prohibition under the Universities (Scotland) Act 1966 which prevents the University of St. Andrews from awarding degrees in medicine and dentistry.

2. The Universities (Scotland) Act 1966

4. The University was founded in 1411 and is the oldest University in Scotland. In 1897 the University amalgamated with a new academic centre in Dundee.

5. The 1966 Act reconstituted the four ancient Universities of Scotland (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St. Andrews) and reorganised the University by separating it from Queen's College in Dundee, to form the University of Dundee. The 1966 Act also conferred upon the four ancient Universities more autonomy in academic matters, such as the institution of new degrees.

6. As there is no major teaching hospital in the St Andrews area, the clinical part of the medical degree offered at that time was, in the immediate separation, moved to the new University of Dundee. As a consequence of this, the 1966 Act removed the University's power to grant undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in medicine, midwifery and dentistry.

7. The University has, however, continued to offer a three-year undergraduate BSc in medicine, which is then used to gain entry to three further years of training at Universities with full medical degree (PMQ (MBChB)) awarding abilities.

8. The 1966 Act has since been amended to partially lift the prohibition placed on the University for postgraduate medical degrees, by the University of St. Andrews (Postgraduate Medical Degrees) Act 2002 ("the 2002 Act"). The 2002 Act therefore reinstated the right of the University to award postgraduate degrees for research in medicine.

9. It has been suggested by the University that the prohibition was never intended to be in place permanently, which Hansard would seem to support. The then Under-Secretary of State for Scotland stated that:

"… it is, of course, open to St. Andrews University to consider whether it, too, wants a medical school. In the present situation, it would no doubt have to do this in conjunction with the working of the Royal Commission on Medical Education which is looking at the establishment of new medical schools… In the initial separation, however, the medical school is going to Dundee because the buildings are there, but that in no way need inhibit St Andrews in future deciding to have a medical school itself, provided that that fits with the general medical training requirements of the country."[2]



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