Students rejected from medical school then sit test

By Nikki Preston

First year students received rejection letters hours before sitting a test. Photo / File
First year students received rejection letters hours before sitting a test. Photo / File

A University of Auckland student says she dedicated hundreds of hours of study and thousands of dollars in course fees in an effort to get into a medical programme, only to be told hours before a test she had been rejected.

She said it was "a big ask" to expect her to achieve high marks in her exam while trying to deal with the bad news.

Letters were sent to 87 first year students telling them they had not been short listed for interviews for the University of Auckland's medical programme.

After receiving the upsetting news, the students who were enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science and Bachelor of Health Science were then expected to sit a test.

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The test was part of the Medical Science 142 paper, which is compulsory for those wanting to get into medical school.

The 87 students were among 917 students vying for interviews for the medical programme.

The student who spoke to the Herald and did not want to be named was trying to "let go" of her feelings over the issue as she prepared for the test.

"Not only was the timing incredibly inappropriate for our test that day but we also have high stakes examinations only days after the news," she said.

"If we are to apply as graduates into the medical programme we must maintain an A range average over the entire course of our degree. To receive news of our rejection only days before serious exams that make up usually at least 50 per cent of each subject grade is also putting our future academic futures on the line.

"We are human after all, and many of us in this position have been working crazy 16 hour study days all of second semester to ensure we get As and A+ grades this semester."

The student said many were also upset at the way in which their applications were assessed.

"Because the faculty have only access to our semester one grades, they have given us all a proxy A+ for our final core medsci142. They have then used this to rank us and eliminate some of us now.

"It seems remarkably unfair to make assumptions about grades for such an important application without even allowing the second half of the year to contribute. In my mind, we should have been informed that if our gpa was below a certain threshold after first semester we shouldn't try to rectify it and apply as there was not actually any opportunity for this."

She said the second semester had cost her $7000 in course fees and living costs, as well as hundreds of study hours.

"If I knew this would have no chance of making a difference then I would have been able to deal with my disappointment and not have it affect my grades.

"Ultimately they have to choose the best people- medicine is difficult and demanding and about helping people, if I am not the best person for the course, then I respect that, I am more just upset at the way it has been handled and the timing and lack of transparency about the value of an entire years work."

The University of Auckland has apologised for the timing of the letters, but a spokesperson said it did not impact the decision about whether they had got on the course.

Students have been encouraged, however, to apply for compassionate consideration when their tests are marked, the spokesperson said.

"The timing of this communication was a mistake.

"We regret this communication was sent and any impact this may have had on students' test performance."

In a post on the Biomed/Health Science First Year Course Facebook page, the committee adviser for the paper wrote that the timing was "completely inappropriate" given it came just before students were due to sit an exam.

The selection committee was apparently unaware of the test.

Auckland University Student Medical Association president Jibi Kunnethedam said about 50 association members had reached out to the students affected by the ordeal. None of the students affected were members as the association only represented medical students, which would be students who were in their second year or more.

"We understand it can be very upsetting for students."

- NZ Herald

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