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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Widening participation to medicine

BSMS > About BSMS > Information for schools, teachers and parents > Widening participation to medicine

Widening participation to medicine

Greater diversity within the medical profession is a goal that benefits us all. BSMS is committed to seeking out talented people who have the potential to become tomorrow’s doctors but who may not have considered it as a possibility, thus enabling medicine to better reflect the patient population. 

For details of all BSMS widening participation (WP) initiatives, please select the relevant section on the left side menu.  

BrightMed students doing an activity with medical students
A BrightMed simulated hospital scenario, with a female patient and 'doctors'

Years 9-13 - BrightMed

BrightMed logo

BrightMed identifies and supports young people from across Sussex who have the potential to become tomorrow’s doctors.

The programme will increase awareness of what it takes to study medicine and healthcare subjects, through fun, inspiring and interactive teaching focused on medicine, health and science.

BrightMed works with students from Year 9 to Year 13. As a ‘BrightMedder’, young people will take part in regular Saturday sessions that involve knowledge sessions, activity days, lectures and seminars. There is also an opportunity to experience life as a student with a stay at the University of Sussex campus during a four-day residential summer school at the end of Year 12. 

Of the 20 participants in the 2019/20 Year 12 cohort, 10 applied to study medicine with them all receiving one or more interviews.

An overview of the sessions that may take place between Year 9-12. Email for more information

 BrightMed aims to instil confidence and develop vital skills in young people, enabling them to submit strong applications to medical schools throughout the UK. Providing advice, hands-on experience and practical exercises allow participants to make informed decisions concerning their future education; an approach that has already had great success. As an example, of the 35 participants in the 2018 Year 12 cohort, 14 applied to medicine with them all receiving one or more interviews, and 11 receiving offers to study medicine. 

Guaranteed Interview Scheme

Sixth form students that are part of the BrightMed programme may be eligible for a guaranteed interview for the Medicine (A100) Undergraduate programme at BSMS.

Students need to:

Meet the academic criteria required: 

  • Taking the BMAT admission test in the year of application
  • Accepted Level 3 qualifications include:
    − Predicted and/or achieved AAB in 3 A-levels including Biology and Chemistry OR 
    − Predicted and/or achieved AA in Biology and Chemistry A-level plus a Distinction in a Level 3 BTEC National Extended Certificate.
    − Predicted and/or achieved 35 points in the International Baccalaureate IB including higher level Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be at grade 5 and the other at grade 6. 
  • GCSE requirements:
    − Predicted and/or achieved at least at grade 5 in English (Literature or Language) and a grade 5 in Maths

Meet the BrightMed criteria requirements:

  • Have 75% attendance at BrightMed in Year 11 and Year 12
  • Have attended a BSMS student society conference and write a reflective piece on it
  • Completed the BSMS Virtual Work Experience Programme
  • Attend the Year 12 BrightMed residential
  • Submit their E-portfolio bringing together required evidence that is explain to participants taking part in BrightMed. Portfolios have to be submitted by 15 October to be considered.

Participants will be eligible to submit only once for a guaranteed interview and must submit within 18 months of completion of the BrightMed residential.

How to apply to BrightMed

Every year BrightMed aims to recruit 80 Year 8 students, who will start the programme at the beginning of Year 9. Often we also have spaces in other years and so would encourage applications from those currently in Year 8, 9, 10 or 11. To be considered for the programme, students will also need to meet all of criteria 1 and at least two of criteria 2 outlined below. Students that are in, or have been in, local authority care only need to meet criteria 1. Students that fulfil more of the criteria will be given the greatest priority. 

Criteria 1 

  • Academic potential – part of a gifted and talented scheme
  • An interest in science and/or medicine and a desire to fulfil their potential
  • An interest and commitment to being part of BrightMed

Criteria 2 

  • No immediate family history of higher education (eg, university), excluding siblings
  • Currently in, or have been in, the care of a local authority
  • Care for someone at home with a long-term disability
  • Have an Educational, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • Are eligible for free school meals and/or a 16-19 “discretionary” bursary
  • Family eligible for any means tested benefits (eg, Jobseeker's Allowance, Universal Credit etc)
  • Currently or previously attended a secondary school where the attainment 8 is below national average of 46.7
    Check eligibility re your secondary school >
  • Current home postcode shows that you live in an area with low levels of progression to higher education. (Postcodes within the lowest 2 POLAR4 quintiles)
    Check the eligibility of your area  >
    OR current home postcode shows that you live in area that falls within the lowest 20% of the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).
    Check the Index of Multiple Deprivation >

Almost all of the young people we work with have no family background of higher education.

2022/2023 BrightMed Applications 

Applications for BrightMed 2022/2023 have now closed for this year.

2023/2024 BrightMed Applications

To register your interest for BrightMed 2023, please register your interest below.

Register your interest for BrightMed 2023  here >

Applications will open Easter 2023.

Applications are welcome from students who are currently in the following year groups: Year 8, Year 9, Year 10, Year 11 and meet the above criteria. For students applying for the later years of the programme, please be aware we have limited spaces. 

Please note: Students need to be living or studying in Sussex to be able to participate in this programme. 

If you have any questions about this programme please contact Claire Johnson via:

"Throughout the duration of this course, I have received an insight of the medical profession; it has guided my career choice and given me a wider platform of thought. My favourite experience has been diagnostics and learning about the cardiovascular system. BrightMed offers ways of learning that school doesn’t and, arguably, I much prefer how we are taught there. A lot of help is offered in terms of future planning and where to go and what to do after high school. This includes searching what universities look for in terms of A levels, which has helped me enormously. Overall, I’ve had a really good, positive experience at BrightMed and I don’t regret joining at all."

Ella – BrightMed participant 

UKWPMED scheme

BSMS has been working with five other medical schools across the country to look at ways to get our widening participation programmes recognised at each others' institutions. The purpose of this is to further support students from a widening participation background who may want to apply at a university in a different part of the country. 

We are pleased to announce, along with Hull York Medical School, Keele University, University of Birmingham, University of Plymouth and the University of Manchester, the creation of the UKWPMED scheme. 

The UKWPMED scheme is open to students in Year 13 who have successfully completed a specific widening participation programme at a medical school that is participating.

UKWPMED schemes and participating schools
 Participating Medical   Schools WP Programme
 Birmingham Medical School  Routes to the Professions: Medicine >
 Brighton and Sussex Medical   School  BrightMed >
 Hull York School of Medicine  Pathways to Medicine >
 Keele School of Medicine  Steps2Medicine >
 Manchester Medical School  Manchester Access Programme Preston Widening Access   Programme (for Medicine) >
 Peninsula Medical School  Peninsula Pathways >

If students qualify they will then receive the same consideration in the selection process as offered to graduates of the WP programme at that university. The potential benefits that may be offered to a UKWPMED applicant may differ between participating medical schools and may include, for example, prioritisation for selection for interview or a reduction in the offer requirement or a combination of adjustments to the standard process of selection.

Applications will be made through UCAS in the standard way with students indicating that they are part of the UKWPMED scheme. Once applications are received by the relevant institutions, checks will be conducted to ensure the completion of the appropriate WP programme. This scheme is currently open to those looking to apply  via the standard UCAS process, by 15 October 2022 (for 2023 entry).

For more details of this scheme please contact or download our scheme details document below.

Download the UKWPMED scheme document here >

BrightMed plastic heart

Year 12 - BrightIdeas

BrightIdeas 2023 logo

Applications for BrightIdeas 2023 are now open.

We are delighted to announce that we are working in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University, Medical Schools Council and Health Education England to deliver BrightIdeas 2023, an MSC Pathway Programme.

What is the BrightIdeas programme?

BrightIdeas provides aspiring medics in Year 12, across England, the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills required to submit a competitive application to medical school.

The programme is centred around participants undertaking a research project that combines scientific literature with insights from people with lived experience of chronic conditions. Alongside completing the project with the support of a current medical student, participants also attend four online events and an in-person summer school.

To find out more about the programme content, the eligibility criteria and details of how to apply, please visit the BrightIdeas 2023 webpage. 

Visit the BrightIdeas 2023 webpage here >

If you are currently in Year 11 and interested in finding out more about our BrightIdeas 2024 programme, please complete the registration of interest form. 

Register your interest for BrightIdeas 2024 here >

 Students gathered around a table at a clinical skills session

Our awards

The BrightMed initiative has been nominated for and won numerous awards since its inception: 

  • 2021 – SHORTLISTED: Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year –THE Awards 2021. Find out more >
  • 2020 – WINNER: Innovation Award at the UK Social Mobility Awards 2020. Read more about this award > 
  • 2019 – WINNER: University of Sussex Education Awards – Better World Award. Read more about this award >
  • 2019 – WINNER: National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Widening Access Initiative (Outreach) Award. Find out more >
  • 2018 – WINNER: NEON Student of the Year Award – Jack Whiting, BSMS Medical Student & Outreach Teaching Mentor. Commendation: NEON Contribution to Widening Access Award – Darren Beaney, Head of Admissions. Find out more about our 2018 NEON award >
  • 2014 to Present – Member of Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance Executive board – Darren Beaney, Head of Admissions
  • 2014 – Medical Schools Council Selecting for Excellence Outreach Guidance – example of best practice
  • 2012 – Social Mobility Commission, Fair Access to the Professions report – example of best practice