As a NZ student, why do some students choose to go to Australian medical schools?

First, some Australian medical schools have direct-entry programs, meaning that if you get in, you can immediately start studying medicine from the first day of university (more information about this in this article). In comparison, the medical courses offered in Auckland and Otago do not accept applications from high-school students: instead of gaining direct entry, you need to first apply for a related undergraduate course (e.g. health sciences or biomedicine) and then apply for the medical program in your first year, which you may not even get into as competition levels are fierce.
Second, some Australian medical schools have guaranteed-entry programs, meaning you don’t need to fulfill any other requirements along the way before you can graduate with your medical degree (we explain this in more detail in this article). As we’ve just mentioned, you may not actually get into the medical programs in Auckland and Otago when you apply in your first year. If you don’t get in, you’re basically stuck doing an undergraduate degree that you may not actually want to do—and since you’ve already completed one year of an undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland, unfortunately, you’re not eligible to then apply for medicine at the University of Otago (or vice versa). So if you can afford it, Australian guaranteed-entry programs are a much more secure option.

Third, there are a lot more spots available, so you have a higher chance of getting into at least a medical program somewhere rather than none at all. For 2020 entry, around 500–600 students (including both domestic and international applicants) were accepted into a medical program at either the University of Auckland or the University of Otago; in Australia, the number is in the thousands. Putting your eggs in multiple baskets is always a safer bet!

Fourth, it’s a good way to get experience. Even if you don’t manage to get into any Australian medical programs at the end of high school, doing the UCAT (and the interview, if you make it to that stage) in Year 13 will help prepare you for sitting the UCAT and interview again the following year. So it’s really a win-win: you either gain entry, or you gain valuable experience that will help you to gain entry later on.

If you’re looking for a list of the Australian medical schools that offer direct entry, this is provided in this article.

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