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A comparison of medicine at Usyd and UNSW

A brief comparison of studying medicine at UNSW or Usyd for 2014 onwards.


Whilst the release of final ATAR results may still be a while away, it is important for high achieving students to consider now whether they would choose to study medicine at UNSW or Usyd. Below is a simple and concise outline of what each of the UNSW medicine and Usyd medicine pathways, respectively, entail.


What has changed?

Usyd will change from awarding MBBS to MD or Doctor of Medicine. The change to MD has not yet been finalised – it requires approval from the University of Sydney Academic Board and from the Australian Medical Council. However, it is likely that students coming into the program in 2014 will undertake the MD although if there are delays, it may be that the new program will commence in 2015. Usyd does not offer an undergraduate degree in medicine.

From 2014 onwards the undergraduate degree offered by UNSW for medicine will be the Bachelor of Medical Studies / Doctor of Medicine replacing the current Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery (MB BS) award thereby offering a more internationally recognisable qualification. The course is 6 years full time or 7 years full time for those wishing to do a double degree in arts as well.


What does this mean if I want to study medicine?

If you want to go straight into studying medicine, the only way of doing so is through the UMAT pathway i.e the entry pathway offered by UNSW. If you choose to attend The University of Sydney you will not be able to gain entry into medicine straight away. You will be required to complete an undergraduate degree and then sit the GAMSAT (a 6.5 hour test) and multiple interview rounds (MMI) to gain entry into graduate medicine.
Thus, it is absolutely essential that you sit the UMAT and score highly on the UMAT in order to gain entry into your preferred undergraduate medicine course. Studying an undergraduate degree in medicine means your place in medicine is guaranteed and you do not have to continue to achieve top of the range scores to get into, and complete, your medical degree.


What are the main differences between Usyd and UNSW medicine entry pathways?

Firstly, it is important to note that universities, by law, cannot charge full fee for undergraduate degrees. Thus, The University of Sydney profits from offering a graduate degree in medicine because it is able to charge full fee for many of the places offered.
Secondly, the pathway offered by Usyd takes an additional year to complete. This may not seem significant but given that specialisation in most areas of medicine will require a further seven years- the sooner you are able to get out into the field, the more experienced and employable you will become. Valuable time should not be wasted studying a non-medicine undergraduate degree.
Perhaps the most compelling argument against the new medicine entry pathway offered by Usyd is that you will not have a guaranteed place in their graduate medicine course.
If you fail to gain entry into the graduate medicine degree offered by Usyd- you will be left floundering with only an undergraduate degree and no other entry options into medicine. You may have the ability to pay full-fee, but for most people this will be unattainable at $55,000 AUD + p/a. Even so, this too will require satisfactory results on the GAMSAT, WAM (weighted averaged mark) and interview. For many students the undergraduate degree they are left with will be science which leaves limited career options in research and other under-funded science areas.


How do I get into med at UNSW?

There are three equally weighted criteria:

Academic Merit  based on:

  • Year 12 results i.e ATAR and,
  • UMAT result (Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test) and,
  • Interview. Interviews are offered on the basis of ATAR scores and UMAT results.


The following is a guide for 2014 Usyd and UNSW  medicine entry pathways as summarised by MedEntry. For more detailed, up-to-date and official information please see the respective UNSW and Usyd websites.


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