The Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme


At Aston Medical School we ‘inspire to aspire’, by raising the aspirations not just of our students and their families, but also the wider community.

In November 2016 we launched the Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme. Designed to prepare students to enter medical school and other healthcare professions at Aston or elsewhere, the programme is for students from across the Birmingham, Black Country (Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton) and Solihull regions; from non-traditional backgrounds (i.e. those who will be the first in their family to attend university, have been in receipt of free school meals etc.)

Students who complete this programme and meet our academic entry criteria will be eligible to apply for one of our subsidised places on our undergraduate medicine degree (the MBChB).

"I am supporting the Pathway to Healthcare Programme because I want to ‘level the playing field’ for access into medical education. Those students from the local community with a passion and ability to study medicine should be fostered and supported – irrespective of their background – and this programme does just that. Aston Medical School is an exciting model for medical education that is a platform for mobility into medicine and will have a meaningful and lasting impact on Birmingham and the health of its population.”       

Sir Doug Ellis, Entrepreneur and former Chairman of Aston Villa Football Club

At their first Pathway to Healthcare Programme event, we asked some of our Cohort 1 students what motivated them to sign up:

Eligibility is subject to change in future years. As an example, students who wished to apply to Cohort 2 (2017 start) of the Pathway Programme must:

  • Be enrolling in to Year 12 in September 2017 at a non-selective state school/college in either the Birmingham, Black Country (Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton) or Solihull regions
  • Have achieved eight A*- C grades at GCSE including: maths, English language and double science or chemistry and biology at grade B. Students that do not meet this grades are are willing to retake should contact us in the first instance.
  • Shown an active interest in life and health sciences.

They must also meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Come from a home where neither parent attended university in the UK or abroad
  • Currently in receipt of a means tested bursary (i.e. 16 to 19 Bursary) 
  • Has been in receipt of free school meals at any point over the last six years (Ever 6)
  • Lives in an eligible postcode area (low progression rate to higher education), you can check your postcode by selecting the eligibility tab on this website
  • Living or has lived in local authority care.

Priority for places will be given to students who meet more than one set eligibility criteria and from schools that are located in areas with a highest Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). You can find out more about the measurements for IMD here and check your schools postcode here.

Please note students who enter the Pathway Programme are not guaranteed a subsidised place on our MBChB undergraduate medical degree. On successful completion of the Pathway Programme, students who wish to apply to Aston Medical School, who fulfil all our admissions and other criteria, will be invited to an MMI (Medicine Multiple Mini Interview) towards final selection for a place at Aston. We cannot guarantee an interview to every student on the pathway programme as the final choice for MMIs will be based on students GCSE and predicted A level grades. 

It's our aim to give students not only an insight into what it is like to work within the medical field but to also give them information, advice and guidance around how to successfully apply to medical school, what it is like to study medicine as a degree, increase their attainment and learn more about other healthcare professions.

This programme is made up of a range of activities and events which will run during years 12 and 13, with the aim of preparing students to enter a medical school and other healthcare pathways. The range of activities and events include:  

Year 12

  • Pathway to Healthcare launch: Find out more information on the programme and details of future events.
  • Medical taster days - 3 events: Students will meet their mentors, explore aspects that can be studied during a medical degree, look at other professions within the NHS, network with healthcare professionals and prepare for their work experience placements.
  • Aston masterclass and sixth form conference days: A series of workshops delivered by academics designed to enrich student’s current studies and discover more about studying a subject outside of medicine, such as audiology, optometry and pharmacy.
  • Work experience placements – Easter Holiday, May Half Term and/or Summer Holiday: Up to one week’s worth of work experience will be arranged for the students by Aston Medical School, in either a local GP practice or hospital.
  • UCAS application day: An interactive day of workshops where students learn more about: the UCAS Application process; including how to create a successful personal statement, how to choose the right course and university, how to budget and what student finance is available.
  • Summer School - Research project: A three day programme which allows students to embark on a specific medical learning experience. Students will receive lectures from our academics, be involved in interactive workshops, run experiments and have access to independent learning spaces to complete a piece of research around an ethical topic.

Year 13

  • UKCAT and UCAS application support session: The UKCAT (The UK Clinical Aptitude Test) will provide up to date knowledge on the challenges of the UKCAT test, as well as giving students the chance to practice the tests themselves. Staff from Aston Medical School will also be on hand to answer any questions about the general UCAS process.
  • MMI and interview practice: The chance to practice the Medicine Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) model, a way of interviewing students used by many medical schools. Students will be tested on a variety of scenarios, as well as being able to practice a formal interview with a panel of admissions and academic staff.
  • Easter A2 Exam Bootcamp: A three day A Level revision bootcamp, in maths, chemistry or biology. Students will learn, revise and study one subject area intensively, with the chance to review progress through assessments and 1-2-1 feedback.
  • Graduation Event: A celebration bringing together all students who have taken part in the Pathways to Healthcare Programme. 
  • A Level results day support: Aston Medical School staff will be available on results day for students to talk through future options.

The calendar of events shows the dates of these activities.

Applications for the 2017 (cohort 2) Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare Programme are now closed. Applications for the 2018 cohort will open in September 2018.

The information on this page is correct as of June 2017. 

If you have any questions about the programme or our eligibility criteria please contact Amanda Bishop, Aston Medical School Widening Participation and Admissions Manager:

Pioneers for Change

In these short videos, discover how the Sir Doug Ellis Pathway to Healthcare programme has benefitted from the Aston University Pioneers for Change project, and hear from the students themselves on what they have learnt and how they have grown over the course of the programme (captured at the 2017 Summer Residential).