Medicine and dentistry schools will receive extra funding to expand courses following an increase in applications for these subjects, the Government has announced.
The number of places on these courses at universities in England is capped by the Government to ensure teaching, learning, and assessment standards are maintained.
But the cap will now be adjusted to allow for over 9,000 places on medical and dentistry courses for the 2021 student intake, the Department for Education (DfE) has announced.
It said that applications for medicine and dentistry have increased by 20% this year compared to last year.
The announcement comes ahead of A-level results day next week, when tens of thousands of school leavers will find out their grades after this summer’s exams were cancelled for the second year in a row because of the pandemic.
Labour accused ministers of being in “panic mode” with the announcement, just days before results day.
The shadow education secretary, Kate Green, said: “Young people getting their results have worked incredibly hard in unprecedented circumstances.
“The Prime Minister has let them down with a second year of chaos and confusion, he must guarantee every student getting their results will be able to progress with their education or employment.
“If the Government can create these additional healthcare places at just days’ notice, it begs serious questions about why they have not acted sooner to tackle the ongoing workforce crisis in the NHS.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Throughout this pandemic our NHS heroes have been at the forefront of the response and their resilience, dedication and perseverance has clearly inspired the next generation.
“Medicine and dentistry have always been popular courses and we have seen significant demand for places this year alongside other subjects like engineering and nursing.
“We want to match student enthusiasm and ensure as many as possible can train this year to be the doctors and healthcare professionals of the future.”
Last summer, the fiasco around grading led to thousands of A-level students having their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm, before Ofqual announced a U-turn.
The Government then announced it would lift the cap on the number of places on medicine courses following the U-turn, after institutions warned they had limited space for students with higher results.