DOZENS of students hoping to become the next generation of doctors and dentists were in Malvern this weekend taking university entry examinations.
All had benefited from tuition at Abbey College in Malvern Wells which puts more people into medicine in the UK than any other college in the country thanks to its 23 year partnership with faculties in the Czech Republic.
In total 65 students took the tests this weekend as papers from the prestigious Charles University in Prague and Masaryk University in Brno were flown across.
Last month 28 pupils secured places while another seven hopefuls will take an exam for Olomouc’s Palacky University next week.
This year Abbey College will have prepared more than 100 students for a life in medicine.
Owner Hekmat Kaveh founded the programme with Charles University in 1991 due to the lack of opportunities in Britain for aspiring doctors and now Professor Otomar Kittnar, Vice Dean of the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles, considers Malvern pupils as the best in the world.
Me Kaveh said: “We responded to the realisation that the number of places available in medical and dentistry schools in the UK did not meet the strong demand.
“Obviously this was causing anxiety and disappointment for many very able students.
“Many who had committed themselves to attaining a medical degree found they had nowhere to go and no option other than choosing a different career path to the one they really wished to take.
“As a direct result of this problem a link was created with universities in the Czech Republic and the EU which now makes it possible for students to follow their chosen profession.”
Abbey College provides three main routes into medicine ranging from pupils taking the entry exams straight away to a year long course.
On average the college puts about 50 students a year into medicine and Mr Kaveh said currently more than a 1,000 former pupils were operating as doctors and dentists in the UK.
He added the partnership with Czech faculties had saved the Government more than £100million since 1991 because it cost around £250,000 to train a doctor in the UK.
He also called for student loan schemes to extend to European courses to address a large shortage in available funds.
Mr Kaveh also said Malvern’s own economy benefited from between 200 and 300 international students on-site throughout the year sitting other courses.
He said: “I am not sure many people in Malvern are aware of how much good we are doing. Thousands of pounds are spent in the town by our students and we are producing doctors and dentists for a country with a shortage of them.”
AHEAD of the weekend’s exams Observer reporter Carl Jackson got the chance to speak to Abbey College students fresh from taking mock tests.
Hussain Abu Baker, 27, is an aspiring dentist who almost gave up on a career in medicine after graduating with a science degree three years ago, but now has decided to follow in the footsteps of his brother who has previously benefited from tuition at the Abbey College. He said: “I definitely needed the revision course to recall and understand all the stuff I had learned in the past. I feel more confident now ahead of the weekend having being away from the academic side of things for a while.”
Nikita Manglani, 19, is a Finnish graduate who has earned an International Baccalaureate. She said the two week refresher course at Abbey College had been intense with lots to learn but added it had been fun and completely necessary to prepare her for the real exam. Nikita, an aspiring surgeon, said she had mixed feelings following the mock tests on Thursday. She and Hussain took the entrance exam for Masaryk on Sunday and should find out if they were successful later this week.
David Dick, 21, has graduated from Newcastle University and is one of those who has seen the difficulty of studying medicine in the UK first hand having applied unsuccessfully three times before turning to Abbey College. Ahead of the weekend’s exam David said he hoped to secure a place at Charles University but if not he would try to get into Masaryk in Brno. The 21-year-old actually managed the highest score in the Charles exam on the day scoring 89 per cent and was offered a place.