Frustration as 25% of medical students not allocated first choice foundation school

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) shares the frustrations of the many medical students who have been allocated to foundation schools outside of their top choices.

One in four medical students have not been allocated their first choice school, while 740 students (7.6%) have been allocated to one outside of their top five.

Trisha Suji, DAUK medical student lead, said: “This is an important moment for all final year medical students in the UK who have just received their foundation programme allocations, determining where they will spend their first two years as a doctor.

“As those in the medical profession know, each foundation school covers large areas of the UK – sometimes entire countries.

“While most medical students have been allocated their top choice, one in four have not.

“For many, this means leaving their support networks behind, and due to differing pay scales in UK countries, leaves some earning less than their peers without choice.”

This is the first year that Preference Informed Allocation (PIA) has been used. It replaced the Score Based Allocation which combined EMP and SJT scores.

The UKFPO conducted modelling in January 2023 which found PIA resulted in 79.47% of applicants obtaining their first choice foundation school compared to the previous score-based system, which achieved 73.90% (1).

DAUK recognises that this informed stakeholder engagement surveys, which found 66% of respondents favoured a move to PIA in June 2023 (2).

DAUK has reviewed the UKFPO 2024 allocation data document.

While we are pleased 75.42% of students, 4.4% more than last year, received their first preference, this was less than the modelling predicted and not the highest seen historically.

This was the second worst year since 2017 for allocating top five preferences, which fell by 2.59% compared to last year.

With 9702 allocations, this means nearly 740 students were allocated to Foundation Schools outside of their top five. 35 students will have been allocated to their 18th preference. (3)

Trisha said: “We share the frustrations of the many medical students that have been forced into this situation.

“It is disappointing that despite changing to this new system which has caused some students distress – a third did not vote for this change – those allocated to their top preferences do not appear to be significantly improved.

“We ask the UKFPO what support it is offering those students who have not been allocated their top preferences this year?

“And how does it plan to improve the numbers of students achieving their preferred preferences for the upcoming year?” 

  1. UK Foundation Programme. What is being looked at – UK Foundation Programme [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Mar 8]. Available from: ↩︎
  2. UK Foundation Programme. Foundation Programme Allocation Process Stakeholder Engagement Outcome: – UK Foundation Programme [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Mar 8]. Available from: ↩︎
  3. UK Foundation Programme. Comparison of Foundation Programme allocation results [Internet]. 2024. Available from: ↩︎