A Graduate Entry Medical School for Northern Ireland at Ulster University

Plans for Ulster University’s Medical School opening in September 2019 are underway.  The new School will have a priority focus on providing more physicians and addressing the ongoing workforce shortage across the medical profession in Northern Ireland.

The University has submitted an Outline Business Case to the Department of Health for the establishment of a new Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School (NIGEMS). In parallel, the University has submitted an application to the General Medical Council (GMC) under their New School or Programme Application process.

The ambitious project will see the creation of a Graduate Entry Medical School in the North-West, offering a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) medical degree programme that is unique in this country.

Professor Hugh McKenna, Ulster University’s Dean of Medical School Development, said:

“Northern Ireland is facing an unprecedented medical workforce shortage that will continue to impact negatively on the care of patients, their families and communities. A new medical school will help to ease the workforce challenges and futureproof our health service.

“Ulster University has a global reputation for biomedical sciences research across the breadth of the medical sphere. Our School of Nursing based at the Magee campus in Derry~Londonderry is ranked fifth in the UK and 37th in the world. Our unparalleled stratified medicine research, which primarily takes place in the C-TRIC facility at Altnagelvin Hospital, is globally renowned for pioneering personalised treatments for chronic health conditions.

“The evidence is clear, Ulster University has never been in a stronger position to take the lead in delivering practical, relevant, and evidence-based teaching to the doctors of the future.”

The Northern Ireland Graduate Entry Medical School will select students who have already completed an undergraduate degree and provide them with four years of intensive, practical medical education.  Ulster’s MBBS programme will have a problem-based and interdisciplinary learning focus and will provide students with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of new UK medical graduates, as set out in the GMC’s ‘Outcomes for Graduates’.

Students will benefit from access to practice learning placements across the full range of medical specialist subjects, enhanced opportunities for primary care based experience, and a greater knowledge and appreciation of the interconnectivity between primary, secondary, social and community-based healthcare. The programme will address modern day healthcare issues, such as chronic disease management, mental health, and gerontology, and will have an added element of cross-border collaboration.  Students will spend over 83 core weeks on clinical placement, with the opportunity of spending up to 30 per cent of this within a primary care setting.

The Plan

Ulster University has submitted an Outline Business Case to the Department of Health, for approval to establish a new Graduate Entry Medical School in Northern Ireland, and an application to the General Medical Council under their New School or Programme Application process

The NIGEMS will offer a four-year MBBS programme and will operate under the current funding model for Higher Education, with Government funding for NI and EU student places.

The new School will admit 60 students in its first year of operation in September 2019*, with a phased increase, over a five-year period, to an annual intake of 120 students.  A limited number of places will be available for overseas entrants.

* Subject to Department of Health approval and successful progression of the MBBS course through the General Medical Council’s quality assurance programme.


Students who have an undergraduate degree in any discipline can apply for entry.  In addition to a 2:1 degree classification, selection criteria will include performance in the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test) and a multiple mini interview process.

The University is in consultation with ACER, who deliver the GAMSAT, with regard to setting up a test centre at the Magee campus for the September 2018 scheduled test.  Further details on the GAMSAT, including the timeline for applications and tests, can be found at https://gamsat.acer.org/university-admission/admission-uk

Grades and scores will form part of the selection process but personal aptitude and a demonstrated motivation for a career in medicine will also be used to decide who is accepted.


The fees will be the usual undergraduate per annum rate for students from Northern Ireland and EU countries (excluding England, Scotland and Wales).  This is £4,030 for 2017/18 and, barring any change in NI policy regarding student fees, should increase only by the rate of inflation for subsequent years of entry.

As the course is graduate entry, and most UK students will already have availed of fee loans from the Student Loan Company, this will not be an option.  Ulster University is currently in negotiations with a local bank to secure a favourable loan rate for our GEMS students and further information on this will be published as soon as the arrangements have been finalised.

For more information please contact:

General enquiries

Trish McCullough
Project Manager, Medical School Development
028 90366534