ARU completes seven-year GMC approval process

Published: 5 May 2023 at 11:00

School of Medicine exterior

Essex’s first medical school gets green light after rigorous accreditation exercise

The School of Medicine at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has completed the final stage of the General Medical Council (GMC)’s rigorous process for new medical schools, which began before construction work on the school had even started.

The General Medical Council’s quality assurance process for new schools began at ARU in 2016, and involved regular visits to the university and NHS partner providers to assess the quality of education against the GMC’s standards. 

ARU’s School of Medicine opened its doors to the first cohort of students in September 2018, and now more than 80 of these students are close to completing the course and will graduate on Monday, 17 July at Chelmsford Cathedral.

ARU’s School of Medicine is the first undergraduate medical school in Essex, and the graduation of its first students is a significant moment in the healthcare landscape of a county that is underserved by general practitioners. According to NHS Digital, the average number of patients for a general practice in mid Essex was 10,538, higher than the UK average, and it is a similar story across the county.

Dr Sanjiv Ahluwalia, Head of the School of Medicine at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“We are looking forward to seeing our first medicine students graduate this summer. Essex has some of the highest patient-GP ratios in the country and one of the ambitions for our School of Medicine is to develop a workforce for the county and the wider region.

“One of our main aims is to ensure there are opportunities for people from all backgrounds to study medicine, and we are proud to have a diverse student body that will serve the profession with distinction in the future.”

The GMC oversees both undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and training in the UK, and any institution looking to establish a new medical school or training programme must demonstrate it meets the GMC’s standards by being subject to an extensive period of quality assurance.

ARU has now been added to the list of UK bodies able to award a primary medical qualification, alongside Aston University. It means medical graduates from Anglia Ruskin University will be added to the medical register and will be able to join the UK’s healthcare workforce.

Professor Colin Melville, the GMC’s Medical Director and Director of Education and Standards, said:

“The GMC maintains high standards and has a very rigorous process before a new medical school can award primary medical qualifications to its students. Both Anglia Ruskin and Aston have worked hard, over a number of years, to meet our quality assurance standards. I’m delighted that, thanks to that hard work, they now have GMC approval to award medical degrees.”

While 100 students began their Medicine degree at ARU in 2018, several have taken the option to undertake further study and will graduate in future years.