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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 Initiatives, please select the relevant section on the left side menu.  

BrightMed students in scrubs


Years 8-11 - BrightMed

BrightMed approaches students in state schools within Sussex during the spring term of each academic year. 

We make these exceptional young people aware of potential careers in medicine, the study that’s involved and what they need to do academically to realise their potential and make the right choices early on.

We help build the confidence and develop vital skills, thereby 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. It's an approach that's already had great success. As an example, of the 35 participants in the 2018 Year 12 cohort, 14 applied to medicine with all receiving one or more interviews and 11 receiving offers to study medicine.

Schools will be invited to nominate pupils from their gifted and talented cohorts who have expressed an interest in studying medicine or who excel at science and wish to explore a potential avenue for their talents. 

If your school has not provided you with information on BrightMed, feel free to make an application by reading the information below and completing an application form when they are open.

The focus of recruitment is on students who have no family background of Higher Education. BrightMed aims to recruit 80 Year 8 students each year, to begin in Year 9. BrightMed is a rolling five-year programme which culminates in a week-long residential at the end of Year 12, with ongoing support through Year 13. Priority is given to young people who most closely fit widening participation selection criteria (see details in side menu). Almost all of the young people we work with have no family background of higher education.

BrightMed applications are currently closed and will re-open in March 2020.

If you are interested in receiving information about BrightMed when applications open, please complete the below form to register your interest. We’ll be in touch with you in March 2020 about BrightMed and sooner with information about other outreach events and activities.

Register your interest in BrightMed >

If you have any questions about the BrightMed programme, please contact us on or call 01273 641841.

"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 

BrightMed plastic heart

Sixth Form - BrightMed 12x3 & BrightIdeas

BrightMed 12x3

We realise that many young people only decide they want to pursue a career in medicine after GCSEs as we often have requests from students currently in Year 12 to join the BrightMed programme. Each year we run a three-day condensed Year 12 programme called BrightMed 12x3 over a weekend in July. This is open to Year 12 and Year 13 students who meet specific widening participation criteria.

BrightMed 12x3 will be running over a weekend in July 2020 on the University of Sussex Campus.

Further details can be found in our information leaflet below. Please note we welcome applications from students across the UK. However, in the event of oversubscription, priority will be given to students at state schools and sixth form colleges in Sussex who most closely meet our widening participation criteria.

To find out more about BrightMed 12x3, read our information leaflet below.

Read more >


If you are interested in receiving information about BrightMed when applications open, please complete the below form to register your interest. We’ll be in touch with you in March 2020 about BrightMed and sooner with information about other outreach events and activities.

Register your interest in BrightMed >

If you have any questions, please get in touch with Charlotte Smyrk on or call 01273 644797.



BrightIdeas is a secondary research project, for Year 12 Students, that seeks to combine scientific literature with patient insight! Supported by a current medical student as an E-mentor, students interested in studying medicine and enrolled on the BrightIdeas project will;

  • Choose a medical condition of interest
  • Research the science behind the condition
  • Explore the social implications and social stigmas of the condition via discussions with patients, or anyone who has cared for patients with the condition
  • Report their findings via an essay, video, podcast, blog etc
  • Share their reports via a presentation or uploading online to educate local communities
  • Reflect on their experiences.

For further information on the project, watch our video below and have a look at the information leaflets.



Read the information for schools document >

Read the information for students document >

BrightIdeas is currently on hiatus while we make some changes. We hope to run it again in September 2019. 

To register your interest in BrightIdeas, please complete the form at the link below.

Regsiter your interest in BrightIdeas >

If you have any questions about BrightIdeas, please contact Charlotte Smyrk via


Widening participation criteria

While we welcome applications from all students, BSMS prioritises students who meet specific widening participation criteria for these events and most students invited to attend will meet at least two of the below criteria:

  • No immediate family history of higher education (excluding siblings)
  • Currently in, or have been in, the care of a local authority
  • Care for someone at home with a long-term illness or disability (with Young Carer Registration)
  • Are in receipt or Disability Living Allowance and/or have an education, health and care plan (EHCP)
  • Are eligible for free school meals or a 16-19 college bursary
  • Are eligible for any other means-tested benefit (Universal Credit)
  • Likely to live in a low participation neighbourhood (POLAR4 data)
  • Likely to live in a deprived neighbourhood according to Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) data (Lowest 20%)
  • Is attending or has attended an underperforming state school (GCSE national average)

For further details and information, please contact outreach team on or call 01273 641841.

Our awards

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

  • 2019 – WINNER: University of Sussex Education Awards – Better World Award. Read more >
  • 2019 – WINNER: National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) Widening Access Initiative (Outreach) Award. Read more >
  • 2018 – WINNER: NEON Student of the Year Award – Jack Whiting, BSMS Medical Student & Outreach Teaching Mentor. Read more >
  • 2018 – Commendation: NEON Contribution to Widening Access Award – Darren Beaney, Head of Admissions. Read more >
  • 2014 to Present – Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance – Widening Participation lead – 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

Data protection policy

Download our Widening Participation and Outreach Data Protection policy.

Download here >