Research

South African medical schools: Current state of selection criteria and medical students’ demographic profile

L J van der Merwe, G J van Zyl, A St Clair Gibson, M Viljoen, J E Iputo, M Mammen, W Chitha, A M Perez, N Hartman, S Fonn, L Green-Thompson, O A Ayo-Ysuf, G C Botha, D Manning, S J Botha, R Hift, P Retief, B B van Heerden, J Volmink

Abstract


Background. Selection of medical students at South African (SA) medical schools must promote equitable and fair access to students from all population groups, while ensuring optimal student throughput and success, and training future healthcare practitioners who will fulfil the needs of the local society. In keeping with international practices, a variety of academic and non-academic measures are used to select applicants for medical training programmes in SA medical schools.

Objectives. To provide an overview of the selection procedures used by all eight medical schools in SA, and the student demographics (race and gender) at these medical schools, and to determine to what extent collective practices are achieving the goals of student diversity and inclusivity.

Methods. A retrospective, quantitative, descriptive study design was used. All eight medical schools in SA provided information regarding selection criteria, selection procedures, and student demographics (race and gender). Descriptive analysis of data was done by calculating frequencies and percentages of the variables measured.

Results. Medical schools in SA make use of academic and non-academic criteria in their selection processes. The latter include indices of socioeconomic disadvantage. Most undergraduate medical students in SA are black (38.7%), followed by white (33.0%), coloured (13.4%) and Indian/Asian (13.6%). The majority of students are female (62.2%). The number of black students is still proportionately lower than in the general population, while other groups are overrepresented.

Conclusion. Selection policies for undergraduate medical programmes aimed at redress should be continued and further refined, along with the provision of support to ensure student success. 


Authors' affiliations

L J van der Merwe, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

G J van Zyl, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

A St Clair Gibson, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

M Viljoen, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

J E Iputo, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa

M Mammen, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa

W Chitha, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa

A M Perez, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

N Hartman, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa

S Fonn, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

L Green-Thompson, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

O A Ayo-Ysuf, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, Gauteng, South Africa

G C Botha, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga-Rankuwa, Gauteng, South Africa

D Manning, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

S J Botha, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College, Durban, South Africa

R Hift, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College, Durban, South Africa

P Retief, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

B B van Heerden, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

J Volmink, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Medical schools; Selection criteria; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2016;106(1):76-81. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i1.9913

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-07-29
Date published: 2015-12-16

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