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Students hoping to study medicine at a top UK university are being offered free accommodation and £10,000 in cash if they are willing to defer their course for a year, following an 'unprecedented' number of applications for this year.
According to the BBC, a record number of students have applied to study medicine this autumn, with an increase of more than 20 percent compared to 2020.
However, in England, the number of places for medicine is capped by the government, partly because of the subsidy required from public funding to meet the cost of around £180,000 for a medical degree.
In a letter to students, the University of Exeter has asked if those who have accepted an offer to start studying medicine this year will hold off until 2022.
As an incentive, the institution said it would not only guarantee a place for next year, but also offer a cash bursary of £10,000 'to spend on preparing yourself', which people would receive at the end of October 2021.
Students would also be given free accommodation at the university's Rowancroft accommodation, which would normally cost £6,574 for an en-suite room or £7,611 for a studio flat.
Professor Mark Goodwin, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said: "This is unprecedented for us, something has happened this year to make a higher proportion choose us. More students are holding us as their firm choice this year."
Goodwin added: "We want to deliver a really high quality student experience, and deliver those safe and secure NHS placements so we can train the number of doctors the government asks us to train."
Students holding a firm offer are being asked to decide by 30 July if they are willing to defer.
The BBC reports that other medical schools will be grappling with 'similar issues, albeit on a smaller scale'.
Dr Katie Petty-Siphon, from the Medical Schools Council, told the outlet that there are the same number of places in England as usual this year - around 7,500.
Universities are also having to accommodate students who chose to defer amid the chaos of last year's A-Level grading, which left more people with the necessary grades, with the government funding 450 additional places.
Petty-Siphon said: "In the past the very best applicants might receive four offers which would mean they would reject - and thus free up - places at three medical schools.
"This did not happen this year and so the 'conversion rate' of offers to firmly accepted places has changed, meaning that some medical schools have more acceptances than they were anticipating."
She added: "The government has funded 450 additional places for applicants who were required to defer last year - and so such candidates are not taking up places destined for 2021 applicants."
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