Medical Training Review Panel: Seventeenth Report

Medical Students

Page last updated: 09 April 2014

In Australia, professional entry level medical education is provided by university medical schools accredited by the Australian Medical Council. There are 18 universities with accredited medical schools in Australia, and a number of these were established in the last nine years. All of these universities have now produced graduates.

In the past, most medical doctors gained their professional entry level qualification by completing a five or six-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree. However, over the years an increasing number of four-year (graduate entry) programs have been introduced.

To date, these medical school programs resulted in a bachelor degree qualification. Most recently, a number of medical schools have moved to a Doctor of Medicine program, resulting in graduates with a master level qualification. The first of these is the University of Melbourne which commenced this program in 2011 and is expected to have the first cohort of master graduates in 2014.

Current programs integrate pre-clinical and clinical components throughout the program and incorporate clinical experience from early in the course. However, the most significant clinical exposure occurs in the latter years of the program.

Medical students gain clinical exposure in a range of clinical settings and via simulation. Throughout their professional entry level medical program they are provided with the skills, knowledge and attributes to move to the next phase of their training, which is the prevocational phase (prior to specialty training).

Current Data

In 2013, there were 16,994 medical students studying in Australian universities (Table 2.1). Of these 4,687 (27.6%) were undertaking a six-year course, 4,502 (26.5%) were undertaking a five-year course and 7,805 (45.9%) were undertaking a four-year course.


Table 2.1: Medical students in Australian universities, 2013
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5
Year 6
Total

UG – undergraduate
PG – postgraduate
MD – Doctor of Medicine

(a) Undergraduate program last intake in 2008. Graduate program last intake in 2009. Masters program commenced in 2011.
(b) These courses are slightly less than 5 years in duration – Bond 4.8 years, Melbourne PG 4.5 years and UWA PG 4.7 years.
(c) The University of Queensland has partnered with the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans to establish the University of Queensland-Ochsner Medical Program. This is a unique joint affiliation that provides US medical students with training experience and a global medical education. Students complete the first two years in Australia at UQ, and the final two years in the US, where they complete the clinical component at Ochsner in Louisiana. First graduates were in 2012. These students have been separated from the UQ students as they do not form part of the medical workforce supply from a planning perspective, but have been included to maintain the trend analysis, as they have been included since 2009.

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

6-year course
Adelaide
159
189
172
171
189
152
1,032
James Cook
235
196
184
196
163
138
1,112
Melbourne UG(a)
0
0
0
7
0
239
246
UNSW
273
278
250
285
286
275
1,647
UWA UG
0
0
152
179
165
154
650
Subtotal
667
663
758
838
803
958
4,687
5-year course
Bond(b)
96
94
79
82
85
..
436
Melbourne PG(a)(b)
0
0
3
3
91
..
97
Monash UG
321
310
305
283
295
..
1,514
Newcastle/UNE
218
197
207
224
173
..
1,019
Tasmania
120
105
112
114
119
..
570
UWA PG(b)
0
67
60
58
58
..
243
UWS
120
130
122
137
114
..
623
Subtotal
875
903
888
901
935
..
4,502
4-year course
ANU
100
84
101
92
..
..
377
Deakin
136
138
133
149
..
..
556
Flinders
168
163
141
122
..
..
594
Griffith
158
149
147
153
..
..
607
Melbourne MD(a)
330
324
325
..
..
..
979
Monash PG
82
91
83
70
..
..
326
Notre Dame Sydney
121
115
107
108
..
..
451
Notre Dame Fremantle
111
98
96
98
..
..
403
Queensland(c)
421
440
428
439
..
..
1,728
UQ Ochsner (USA)(c)
105
76
36
24
..
..
241
Sydney
310
290
322
291
..
..
1,213
Wollongong
85
83
82
80
..
..
330
Subtotal
2,127
2,051
2,001
1,626
..
..
7,805
Total
3,669
3,617
3,647
3,365
1,738
958
16,994

Top of page

In 2013, 14,267 or 84.0% of all students were domestic students (Table 2.2). A domestic student is defined as being an Australian or New Zealand citizen, or an Australian permanent resident. Of these 3,857 (27.0%) were undertaking a six-year course, 3,872 (27.1%) were undertaking a five-year course and 6,538 (45.8%) were undertaking a four-year course.

Table 2.2: Domestic medical students in Australian universities, 2013
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5
Year 6
Total

UG – undergraduate
PG – postgraduate
MD – Doctor of Medicine

(a) Undergraduate program last intake in 2008. Graduate program last intake in 2009. Masters program commenced in 2011.
(b) These courses are slightly less than 5 years in duration – Bond 4.8 years, Melbourne PG 4.5 years and UWA PG 4.7 years.

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

6-year course
Adelaide
124
164
157
150
153
127
875
James Cook
201
173
167
169
141
136
987
Melbourne UG(a)
0
0
0
6
0
166
172
UNSW
214
216
187
225
232
212
1,286
UWA UG
0
0
130
147
134
126
537
Subtotal
539
553
641
697
660
767
3,857
5-year course
Bond(b)
95
94
77
80
83
..
429
Melbourne PG(a)(b)
0
0
3
3
77
..
83
Monash UG
263
247
252
235
237
..
1,234
Newcastle/UNE
192
179
178
186
151
..
886
Tasmania
100
85
89
88
105
..
467
UWA PG(b)
0
58
60
58
58
..
234
UWS
103
107
108
114
107
..
539
Subtotal
753
770
767
764
818
..
3,872
4-year course
ANU
98
81
92
84
..
..
355
Deakin
131
132
131
144
..
..
538
Flinders
143
143
121
111
..
..
518
Griffith
152
149
147
153
..
..
601
Melbourne MD(a)
294
288
302
0
..
..
884
Monash PG
75
82
68
64
..
..
289
Notre Dame Sydney
121
115
107
108
..
..
451
Notre Dame Fremantle
111
98
96
98
..
..
403
Queensland
308
308
320
313
..
..
1,249
Sydney
232
220
264
237
..
..
953
Wollongong
76
74
75
72
..
..
297
Subtotal
1,741
1,690
1,723
1,384
..
..
6,538
Total
3,033
3,013
3,131
2,845
1,478
767
14,267

Top of page

Types of Student Places

A student undertaking medical studies in Australia may occupy either:

  • a Commonwealth-supported university place (CSP), where the student is required to pay for only part of the cost of his or her degree through HECS; or
  • a full fee-paying place, which is funded entirely by the tuition fees paid by the student.

Some medical students occupying Commonwealth-supported university places are participating in the Bonded Medical Places Scheme (BMPS) or have received scholarships through the MRBSS, which commenced in 2004 and 2001 respectively.

Students participating in the BMPS have a return of service obligation to work in a DWS as identified by the Commonwealth, for a period of time equal to the length of the medical degree. However, up to half of the return of service obligation can be met while completing prevocational and vocational training.

Recipients of the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship Scheme (MRBSS) scholarship are required to work for six continuous years in locations within Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) 2 to 5. MRBSS doctors start their six year commitment to work in rural Australia after completing their vocational training.

Over three-quarters of all university places each year are Commonwealth-supported. In 2013, there were 13,315 Commonwealth-supported places or 78.4% of all places (Table 2.3). For commencing students the proportion is almost the same. Of the 3,669 commencing medical students in 2013, 2,792 students or 75.3% were in Commonwealth-supported places (Table 2.4).

Just over one-fifth (21.2%) of all medical students were fee-paying in 2013. Three-quarters of full fee-paying places are occupied by international students and this number is similar among commencing students (75.2%, Table 2.4) and all medical students (75.8%, Table 2.3).

Table 2.3 provides detailed information on the number and types of places available at each university in 2013, with Table 2.4 displaying this for commencing students. Table 2.5 provides further information on whether it was a Commonwealth-supported or fee-paying place.

Table 2.3: Medical students by type of student place and university, 2013
Commonwealth-supported places
Fee-paying places
Other(a)
Total
Domestic
International

UG – undergraduate
PG – postgraduate
MD – Doctor of Medicine

(a) Includes medical students on state health department bonded medical scholarships.

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

Adelaide
870
5
157
0
1,032
ANU
355
0
22
0
377
Bond
0
429
7
0
436
Deakin
538
0
18
0
556
Flinders
441
0
76
77
594
Griffith
598
0
6
3
607
James Cook
983
4
125
0
1,112
Melbourne MD
754
130
95
0
979
Melbourne PG
83
0
14
0
97
Melbourne UG
163
9
74
0
246
Monash PG
287
2
37
0
326
Monash UG
1,229
5
280
0
1,514
Newcastle/UNE
884
2
133
0
1,019
Notre Dame Sydney
260
191
0
0
451
Notre Dame Fremantle
399
4
0
0
403
Queensland
1,219
30
479
0
1,728
UQ Ochsner (USA)
..
..
241
..
241
Sydney
931
21
260
1
1,213
Tasmania
467
0
103
0
570
UNSW
1,256
30
361
0
1,647
UWA PG
234
0
9
0
243
UWA UG
537
0
113
0
650
UWS
530
9
84
0
623
Wollongong
297
0
33
0
330
Total
13,315
871
2,727
81
16,994

Top of page

Table 2.4: Commencing medical students by type of student place and university, 2013
Commonwealth-supported places
Fee-paying places
Domestic
International
Other(b)
Total

UG – undergraduate
PG – postgraduate
MD – Doctor of Medicine

(a) The University of Western Australia is in the process of converting its medical degree from a 6 year undergraduate MBBS degree to a 4 year MD degree. First year enrolment for the MD program will commence in 2014.
(b) Includes medical students on state health department bonded medical scholarships.

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

Adelaide
124
0
35
0
159
ANU
98
0
2
0
100
Bond
0
95
1
0
96
Deakin
131
0
5
0
136
Flinders
112
0
25
31
168
Griffith
152
0
6
0
158
James Cook
201
0
34
0
235
Melbourne MD
253
41
36
0
330
Melbourne PG
0
0
0
0
0
Melbourne UG
0
0
0
0
0
Monash PG
75
0
7
0
82
Monash UG
263
0
58
0
321
Newcastle/UNE
192
0
26
0
218
Notre Dame Sydney
57
64
0
0
121
Notre Dame Fremantle
107
4
0
0
111
Queensland
305
3
218
0
526
Sydney
229
3
78
0
310
Tasmania
100
0
20
0
120
UNSW
214
0
59
0
273
UWA PG(a)
0
0
0
0
0
UWA UG(a)
0
0
0
0
0
Western Sydney
103
0
17
0
120
Wollongong
76
0
9
0
85
Total
2,792
210
636
31
3,669

Top of page

In 2013, the majority of Commonwealth-supported students occupied HECS only places (9,621 places or 72.3% of Commonwealth-supported places), whereas 3,694 or 27.7% of Commonwealth-supported students have a return of service obligation under either the MRBSS or BMPS, in addition to contributing to the cost of their education under HECS (Table 2.5).

Ten years after the commencement of the BMPS, there were 3,278 students in BMPS places. This was a slight decrease from 2012 (4 students). However, from 2009 to 2013 the number of students supported through this scheme had increased by 999 places or 43.8% (Table 2.5).

The number of students in the MRBSS also decreased from 2012 (53 students or 11.3%). However the number of students in MRBSS places remained relatively constant since 2009, ranging between 481.5 students in 2009 and 416 students in 2013. The number of MRBSS students as a proportion of all student places decreased from 3.3% in 2009 to 2.5% in 2013, while the number of BMPS students as a proportion of all students increased from 15.7% in 2009 to 19.3% in 2013.

The proportion of domestic fee-paying students has been in steady decline since 2009 (6.5% of all students in 2009, to 4.7% of all students in 2012). But the proportion of domestic fee-paying students increased in 2013 (5.1% of all students in 2013). The absolute number of international fee-paying students has increased but the proportion has fluctuated, starting at 16.7% in 2009. By 2013 (as in 2012), international fee-paying students comprised 16.0% of all medical students.

Table 2.5: Medical students by type of student place: Number and proportion of places, 2009–2013
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

(a) International students are those studying as private or sponsored students who are not Australian citizens, permanent residents or New Zealand citizens.
(b) Includes medical students on state health department bonded medical scholarships.
(c) ANU offers their research component part time in exceptional circumstances.

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

Medical students
Commonwealth-supported
10,938
11,873
13,016
13,289
13,315
HECS only
(c)8,177.5
8,707
9,435
9,538
9,621
BMPS
2,279
2,686
3,122
3,282
3,278
MRBSS
(c)481.5
480
459
469
416
Fee-paying
3,373
3,356
3,364
3,492
3,598
Domestic
949
905
829
801
871
International(a)
2,424
2,451
2,535
2,691
2,727
Other(b)
210
231
111
87
81
Total
14,521
15,460
16,491
16,868
16,994
Proportion of places (%)
Commonwealth-supported
75.3
76.8
78.9
78.8
78.4
HECS only
56.3
56.3
57.2
56.5
56.6
BMPS
15.7
17.4
18.9
19.5
19.3
MRBSS
3.3
3.1
2.8
2.8
2.4
Fee-paying
23.2
21.7
20.4
20.7
21.2
Domestic
6.5
5.9
5.0
4.7
5.1
International(a)
16.7
15.9
15.4
16.0
16.0
Other(b)
1.4
1.5
0.7
0.5
0.5
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

Top of page

Scholarships

Students can receive scholarships through a variety of sources. Data was collected through the MSOD project from 3,471 medical students (94.2% of the total 3,686) commencing their studies in 2012. Of these, 366 (10.5%) stated that they received a scholarship to support them in their medical studies (Table 2.6).

Table 2.6: Commencing medical students source of scholarships, 2012
Students
Proportion (%)

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

Commonwealth scholarships
124
33.9
State scholarships
11
3.0
Scholarships provided by Australian universities
180
49.2
Scholarships provided by home country to international students
37
10.1
Scholarships provided by other institutions
12
3.3
Unnamed
2
0.5
Total
366
100.0

Student Characteristics

Data from MSOD provides insights into who is undertaking medical studies. Data are recorded for the 3,471 students (94.2% of the total 3,686) who completed the MSOD entry requirements in 2012.

Just over four-fifths (81.1%) of students commencing their medical studies in 2012 were under the age of 25 years (Table 2.7).

Table 2.7: Commencing medical students by sex and age, 2012
Age groupMaleFemaleProportion female (%)TotalProportion
of total (%)

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

Less than 20 years
642
659
50.7
1,301
37.5
20-24 years
775
740
48.8
1,515
43.6
25-29 years
239
197
45.2
436
12.6
30-34 years
71
56
44.1
127
3.7
35-39 years
26
24
48.0
50
1.4
40 years and over
17
24
58.5
41
1.2
Unknown
1
0
0
1
0
Total
1,771
1,700
49.0
3,471
100.0

Top of page

Just over half (56.7%) of the medical students commencing in 2012 began their studies after finishing another degree, with 83.8% of these having completed a tertiary qualification in science, medical science and health and/or allied health (Table 2.8).

The majority (94.8%) of these students entered a graduate program. Just over three quarters (76.4%) had bachelor degrees, 14.4% had completed honours, graduate diploma or certificate and 9.2% of these students had a masters or doctorate (Table 2.9).

Table 2.8: Commencing medical students discipline of highest tertiary qualification completed, 2012
Discipline of prior degree
Undergraduate entry
Graduate entry
Total

(a) B.Sci, B Applied Sci (no or unclear major), Vet Sci, Liberal Arts, B Sci in Human Movement, biotechnology, human kinetics, exercise science and psychology.
(b) B. Medical Science, pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, haematology, histopathology, cytology and immunology.
(c) Radiography, nursing, optometry, podiatry, speech pathology, orthodontics, nutrition, public health and tropical medicine, occupational therapy, kinesiology, naturopathy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, dentistry, dental surgery, oral health, prosthetics and orthotics.
(d) B Eng, B Computer Science, architecture, urban planning, electronics, surveying, IT and mathematics.

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

Science(a)
26
674
700
Medical Science(b)
14
527
541
Health/Allied Health(c)
34
363
397
Humanities
11
134
145
Commerce/Business/Law
7
79
86
Physical sciences(d)
7
64
71
Other/Unknown
3
26
29
Total
102
1,867
1,969

Table 2.9: Commencing medical students level of highest prior tertiary qualification by medical degree entry program(a), 2012
Level of prior degree
Undergraduate entry
Proportion undergraduate (%)
Graduate entry
Proportion postgraduate (%)
Total

(a) Based on all individuals who reported previous qualifications.

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

PhD
0
0
44
2.4
44
Masters
17
16.7
128
6.9
145
Graduate Diploma/Certificate
9
8.8
55
2.9
64
Honours
7
6.9
213
11.4
220
Bachelor
65
63.7
1,426
76.4
1,491
Associate Degree
0
0
1
0.1
1
Other/unknown
4
3.9
0
0
4
Total
102
100.0
1,867
100.0
1,969

Table 2.10 and Table 2.11 provide information on the preferred type of medical practice as reported in the MSOD questionnaire by students in their final year of a medical degree and by PGY1 trainees. The same specialties ranked as the top three first-preference choices for each gender in both the final year of medical degree and the first postgraduate year.

The most popular preferred types of medical practice among males were surgery and adult medicine, followed by general practice (295, 205 and 127 respectively in final year of medical degree and 185, 173, and 107 in PGY1). Females noted general practice, adult medicine and paediatrics and child health most often as their first preference for type of medical practice (244, 240 and 187 respectively in final year of medical degree and 230, 189 and 114 in PGY1).

Table 2.10: Preferred type of medical practice in final year of medical degree by gender, 2012(a)
Specialty
Preference 1
Preference 2
Preference 3
Male
Female
Male
Female
Male
Female

(a) Data were collected from 2,519 medical students in their final year who answered the MSOD questionnaire.

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

Addiction medicine
3
3
3
4
2
7
Adult medicine/internal medicine
205
240
102
120
103
110
Anaesthesia
112
101
98
78
83
64
Dermatology
12
36
12
23
8
22
Emergency medicine
105
106
128
101
92
106
General practice
127
244
75
145
103
127
Indigenous health
1
6
2
5
4
18
Intensive care medicine
35
20
78
53
73
46
Medical administration (e.g. managing a hospital)
2
3
6
7
14
13
Non-specialist hospital practice (e.g. career as a medical officer in a hospital)
1
0
2
6
7
9
Obstetrics and gynaecology
32
138
24
97
25
54
Occupational and environmental medicine
0
0
1
0
1
0
Ophthalmology
26
25
20
17
9
13
Oral and maxillofacial surgery
9
1
2
4
4
4
Paediatrics and child health
69
187
66
100
37
76
Pain medicine
1
1
4
1
6
4
Palliative medicine
1
7
9
20
7
26
Pathology
7
7
4
8
7
11
Psychiatry
34
34
20
32
28
45
Public health medicine
0
5
8
7
11
21
Radiology
33
20
34
16
30
15
Rehabilitation medicine
0
1
1
4
3
7
Rural and remote medicine
19
37
18
26
24
32
Sexual health medicine
2
4
3
13
7
19
Surgery
295
141
77
43
60
35
Other
13
8
3
5
6
3

Top of page

Table 2.11: Preferred type of medical practice in postgraduate year 1 by gender, 2012(a)
Specialty
Preference 1
Preference 2
Preference 3
Male
Female
Male
Female
Male
Female

(a) Data collected from 2,519 medical students in their final year who answered the MSOD questionnaire.

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

Addiction medicine
0
1
1
3
2
2
Adult medicine/internal medicine
173
189
61
79
53
76
Anaesthesia
83
72
58
49
51
43
Dermatology
11
17
5
11
10
12
Emergency medicine
38
67
49
63
71
58
General practice
107
230
74
113
87
98
Indigenous health
0
2
2
5
2
10
Intensive care medicine
17
22
64
54
43
36
Medical administration (e.g. managing a hospital)
5
0
6
5
16
9
Non-specialist hospital practice (e.g. career as a medical officer in a hospital)
1
0
3
5
2
6
Obstetrics and gynaecology
14
71
8
44
7
33
Occupational and environmental medicine
2
0
0
1
1
2
Ophthalmology
25
18
6
5
7
2
Oral and maxillofacial surgery
6
1
7
2
2
1
Paediatrics and child health
30
114
17
45
11
39
Pain medicine
0
1
5
2
2
4
Palliative medicine
1
6
11
22
17
24
Pathology
5
11
6
7
3
5
Psychiatry
22
35
9
14
9
13
Public health medicine
1
9
7
9
6
23
Radiology
39
12
32
14
27
16
Rehabilitation medicine
2
3
4
6
2
6
Rural and remote medicine
22
29
11
19
12
23
Sexual health medicine
0
1
2
5
4
9
Surgery
185
92
50
28
21
22
Other
14
14
8
9
1
5

Top of page

In 2012, a total of 625 of the 3,471 medical students completing the MSOD entry questionnaire reported that they held temporary or other entry permits to Australia (Table 2.12). The highest numbers of international students came from Singapore (22.1%), Canada (19.7%), Malaysia (15.8%) and United States of America (13.6%).

Table 2.12: International commencing medical students holding temporary or ‘other’ entry permits by place of birth, 2012
Country of birth
Students
Proportion (%)

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

Singapore
138
22.1
Canada
123
19.7
Malaysia
99
15.8
United States of America
85
13.6
Hong Kong (SAR of China)
24
3.8
China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)
19
3.0
Korea, Republic of (South)
19
3.0
Sri Lanka
15
2.4
Indonesia
12
1.9
All other (where n≤10)
91
14.6
Total
625
100.0

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Students

Data on the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people(s) status of medical students is available from two sources, MDANZ Student Statistical Collection and the MSOD. Data from these two sources cannot necessarily be reconciled, so both are presented below as each provides different insights into the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people(s) studying medicine.

The number and proportion of medical students reporting that they are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin when completing the MSOD entry questionnaire have risen slightly over the years from 37 or 1.2% of commencing students in 2008, to 48 or 1.4% in 2012 (Table 2.13).

Table 2.13: Commencing medical students by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status, 2008–2012
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012

Source: Medical Schools Outcomes Database

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
37
38
47
69
48
Non Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
3,180
3,113
3,064
3,483
3,403
Unknown
18
10
4
10
20
Total
3,235
3,161
3,115
3,562
3,471
Proportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students (%)
1.2
1.2
1.5
1.9
1.4

Data from the MDANZ shows that there have been significant increases each year in the overall number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people(s) studying medicine. In 2013, there was a total of 261 medical students studying in Australian universities who reported being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (Table 2.14), an increase of 163.6% over the eight years from 2006. No data are available for the actual attrition rate, which is known to be higher than for non Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, or on the number of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students who go on to complete their medical degrees.

Table 2.14: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander medical students studying in Australian universities, 2006–2013
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
99
125
129
137
161
218
226
261
Annual increase (%)
26.3
3.2
6.2
17.5
35.4
3.7
15.5

Top of page

Rural Exposure

Exposure to rural and remote settings, whether through living, schooling and/or undertaking medical studies or training there, is shown to have a positive impact on the likelihood of medical professionals practising in rural and remote areas.

The Rural Clinical Training and Support (RCTS) program provides funding to participating universities for the establishment and support of medical student training in rural areas, and supports 17 rural clinical schools nationally. The RCTS program aims to improve the range of rural health care services and strengthen the health workforce in rural communities across Australia.

Participating Australian medical schools are required to meet a range of objectives set out in the program parameters, including:

  • providing at least 4 weeks rural training for all medical students;
  • having at least 25% of their medical students undertake at least one year of clinical training in a rural area;
  • providing high-quality training of medical students in rural and remote areas;
  • having at least 25% of their yearly student intake of rural origin;
  • maintaining and enhancing measures to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical student graduates; and
  • facilitating an increase in rural health and workforce research, rural health advocacy and a raised awareness of rural and remote health issues.

The RCTS is a component initiative of the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) program, which also supports 11 University Departments of Rural Health, six dental schools that offer rural dental placements and the John Flynn Placement Program.

Data on students who have a rural background are collected by medical schools. In 2013, 769 or 27.1% of commencing domestic students reported that they had lived in a rural or remote area prior to commencing their medical studies (this is in line with the proportion of 27% in 2012). A slightly higher proportion (29.9%) of students from universities participating in the Rural Clinical Training and Support Program reported a rural background compared to all commencing domestic students (Table 2.15).

The proportion of domestic students with a rural background was roughly one quarter in each state and territory.

Table 2.15: Commencing domestic students with a rural background(a) by state/territory, 2013
University
Males
Females
Total
Proportion of all domestic students with a rural background
(%)
Rural Clinical Training
and Support Program(i):
Proportion students
with a rural background (%)

UG – undergraduate
PG – postgraduate
MD – Doctor of Medicine

(a) Rural background is based on residency from the commencement of primary school in an area classified as RA2 to RA5 under the Australian Standard Geographical Classification - Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) system.
(b) UNSW data based on RRMA 3-7. The Rural Clinical Training and Support (RCTS) program data based on an ASGC-RA 2-5 area.
(c) This university is not subject to the RCTS rural origin target and does not collect data on rurality.
(d) This university does not participate in the RCTS program and does not collect data on rurality.
(e) This university does not participate in the RCTS program.
(f) The University of Western Australia is in the process of converting its medical degree from a 6 year undergraduate MBBS degree to a 4 year MD degree. First year enrolment for the MD program will commence in 2014.
(g) Excludes domestic students from UWS, UWA and Bond.
(h) The total of 22 commencing students with a rural background reported for this school equates to 40% of CSPs for this school.
(i) The Rural Clinical Training and Support (RCTS) program requires that a number of Australian medical students equal to at least 25% of the University's medical student CSP allocation must come from a rural background, defined as residency for at least five years since beginning primary school in an ASGC-RA 2-5 area. Universities may count full-fee paying students towards the 25% target.
(j) The RCTS rural origin proportion for University of Notre Dame covers both NSW and WA campuses as they have one Agreement with the Department of Health.
(k) Monash UG and Monash PG numbers are combined.

Source: Australian Government Department of Health and Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

New South Wales
Newcastle/UNE
33
21
54
28.1
28.1
Notre Dame Sydney
8
14
22
(h)18.2
(j)29.6
Sydney
29
29
58
25.0
26.0
UNSW(b)
28
29
57
26.6
25.4
UWS(c)
..
..
..
..
..
Wollongong
23
28
51
67.1
67.1
Total NSW
121
121
242
29.0
30.6
Victoria
Deakin
15
21
36
27.5
27.5
Melbourne MD
31
36
67
22.8
27.3
Monash PG
8
13
21
28.0
..
Monash UG
34
39
73
27.8
(k)26.8
Total Vic
88
109
197
25.8
27.1
Queensland
Bond(d)
..
..
..
..
..
Griffith(e)
6
3
9
5.9
..
Queensland
39
37
76
24.7
24.4
James Cook
27
81
108
53.7
51.7
Total Qld
72
121
193
29.2
35.3
Western Australia
Notre Dame WA
8
20
28
25.2
..
UWA PG(f)
0
0
0
..
..
Total WA
8
20
28
25.2
..
South Australia
Adelaide
9
16
25
20.2
21.7
Flinders
12
19
31
21.7
28.8
Total SA
21
35
56
21.0
25.2
Tasmania
Tasmania
13
18
31
31.0
31.0
Australian Capital Territory
ANU
8
14
22
22.7
25.6
Total
331
438
(g)769
27.1
29.9

Top of page

Trends

The number of commencing medical students increased each year from 2009 to 2011 (328 more commencements in 2011 compared to 2009), but decreased in both 2012 (84 students) and 2013 (17 students). The zero intake for the University of Western Australia in 2012 affected the trend of commencing medical students, with 2012 the first year to show a decline in numbers, as the university transitions from a four-year program to a six-year program. Overall commencing medical students increased by 6.6% overall, from 3,442 in 2009 to 3,669 in 2013 (Table 2.16).

Over the same period, the number of domestic commencing students increased by 78 students or 2.6%, while the number of international commencing students increased by 149 students or 30.6%.

The proportion of female domestic students commencing medical studies remained relatively stable over the last five years – around half of all commencing medical students. However, the proportion of female international students was slightly less than half of all commencing international students.

Table 2.16: Commencing medical students: Domestic, international and proportion of females(a), 2009–2013
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

(a) Based on the commencing year of the graduate course.
(b) International students are those studying as private or sponsored students who are not Australian citizens, permanent residents or New Zealand citizens.
(c) Includes the UQ Ochsner (USA) cohort.

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

Domestic
2,955
2,940
3,241
3,035
3,033
Proportion female (%)
54.8
52.9
50.9
48.1
51.2
International(b)(c)
487
529
529
651
636
Proportion female (%)
47.0
42.5
47.6
47.5
45.6
Total
3,442
3,469
3,770
3,686
3,669

Projections suggest that 3,851 medical students will commence their studies in Australian universities in 2014 (Table 2.17). Of these 3,131 (81.3%) are expected to be domestic students and 720 (18.7%) international students. This is slightly more (by 182 students or 5.0%) than the actual number who commenced studies in 2013. It is worth noting that the University of Western Australia did not enrol any commencing students in 2013.

Table 2.17: Commencing medical student projections(a), 2014
University
Domestic
International
Total

(a) These numbers are projections only and are subject to change.

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

Adelaide
124
35
159
ANU
90
10
100
Bond
95
1
96
Deakin
130
12
142
Flinders
136
30
166
Griffith
154
8
162
James Cook
175
30
205
Melbourne
295
45
340
Monash
319
66
385
Newcastle/UNE
170
24
194
Notre Dame Sydney
120
-
120
Notre Dame Fremantle
106
-
106
Queensland
300
120
420
UQ Ochsner (USA)
..
110
110
Sydney
228
80
308
Tasmania
95
20
115
UNSW
208
67
275
UWA
209
30
239
Western Sydney
102
20
122
Wollongong
75
12
87
Total
3,131
720
3,851

Top of page

Between 2009 and 2013, there was an increase of 2,473 students or 17.0% of the total number of medical students studying in Australian universities (Table 2.18). Over the same period, the number of domestic students increased proportionally more than the number of international students, rising by 17.9% to 14,267 students. The number of international students increased by only 12.5% to 2,727.

Table 2.18: Medical students: Domestic, international and proportion of females(a), 2009–2013
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

(a) Data covers all years of study.
(b) International students are those studying as private or sponsored students who are not Australian citizens, permanent residents or New Zealand citizens.
(c) Includes the UQ Ochsner (USA) cohort (refer to Table 2.1 for more information).

Source: Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand Inc

Domestic
12,097
12,946
13,956
14,177
14,267
Proportion female (%)
54.6
54.2
53.0
51.5
51.2
Annual increase (%)
9.7
7.0
7.8
1.6
0.6
International(b)(c)
2,424
2,451
2,535
2,691
2,727
Proportion female (%)
51.4
50.1
49.1
48.7
47.3
Annual increase (%)
5.0
1.1
3.4
6.2
1.3
Total
14,521
15,397
16,491
16,868
16,994
Annual increase
876
1,094
377
126
Annual increase (%)
6.0
7.1
2.3
0.7