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NEWSFLASH - Turns out the ACCC’s decision to re-authorise the GEMSAS admissions system is not as boring as you might think!

by , 29 April, 2016
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On 19 November 2014 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) re-authorised the GEMSAS admissions system, thereby protecting the GAMSAT ® Exam Consortium (the Consortium)1 from anti-competition violations as a result of its admissions and interview procedures.  Although the re-authorisation simply maintains the status quo, the ACCC decision raises some interesting points about the GEMSAS admissions system that many applicants may not be aware of.  But if the thought of reading hundreds of pages of submissions and decisions puts you to sleep - never fear - for the juiciest bits have been summarised below!


  • Monash University will leave the Consortium at the end of 2015
    The reason given was that due to the small size of the graduate entry intake, Monash have decided to manage their applications directly.  This isn’t entirely surprising, given that their admissions criteria has significantly tightened over the past couple of years (by 2017 Monash will primarily accept students who have completed their own branded biomedical science degree).  However, it does provide an enviable situation for students who meet the Monash prerequisites, in that they will now have 3 bites at the cherry – a GEMSAS application and a direct application for both Monash and USyd.  Gippsland never sounded so good!
  • Numbers are out on interview ratios
    The GEMSAS submission includes details of the ratio of interviews:offers at each of the GEMSAS schools and it’s interesting to see that there’s significant variance.  For 2014 admissions, UMelb had the best ratio while the NSW schools (UNDS, ANU, UOW) have the worst.  A couple of inferences can be made from this – firstly, UMelb doesn’t need to interview as many people to fill its places (it was the most popular GEMSAS school with 1109 applicants preferencing it first) and secondly, the NSW schools need to interview more applicants as they lose a higher proportion to USyd (GEMSAS receive on average 356 withdrawals per year, although it’s not clear how many of these are due to applicants accepting a USyd place instead).  Ultimately though, the standardisation of interview scores means that applicants should continue to preference schools in the order that they would like to attend (for more information on preferencing schools check out our blog post Choosing Your Medical School.
  • Use your preferences wisely
    11% of successful applicants were offered a place at their 4 th, 5 th or 6 th preferenced school.  So if you are 100% sure that you’re not willing to travel interstate to study medicine, you might want to consider preferencing fewer schools and holding out for a second round offer.  Yes, the chances are slim, but GEMSAS note that due to USyd offers, some schools have had to made second, third and very late round offers, so particularly for those in NSW, you might be game to take the risk!
  • Get your GEMSAS applications in on time
    It goes without saying, but make sure you actually register for GAMSAT® Exam on time and then get your GEMSAS application in on time.  In the 2013 admissions round, 14 appeals were lodged by applicants who didn’t get their GEMSAS application in on time.  All 14 were denied.  Don’t be that person.


That’s most of the juicy stuff.  The rest is about how the GEMSAS system doesn’t prevent competition and can be boiled down to the following:

  • Different selection criteria = inbuilt competition
    Each medical school sets their own requirements (eg. minimum GPA, portfolio, bonus points) and as such, each applicant can consider their suitability and competitiveness for each school when deciding on their preferences.
  • Public benefit
    The ‘one application, one interview’ policy saves applicants from excessive costs associated with submitting multiple applications and travelling to multiple interviews.  Similarly, it saves medical schools from conducting several rounds of interviews and needing to interview many more applicants than there are places.
  • Widespread support
    The GEMSAS system is supported by the Australian Medical Council (the independent national standards and assessment body for medical education and training), the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.


So in summary, if you look past the juicy tidbits that were disclosed, the decision tells us what you would already know if you’ve ever spoken to any of the pre-GEMSAS applicants – the system is far from perfect, but it’s way more efficient than having to apply directly to each medical school. 


However, given that USyd (and soon to be Monash) have left the consortium, we will have to wait and see whether this results in any flow-on changes to the application and interview process.


For more information about how the GEMSAS system applies to you, have a read through our related blog posts:  Selection Criteria for Australian Medical Schools and How the MMI differs between Australian Medical Schools.

For further educational resources, click here: Public Schools


1The Consortium members are The Australian National University, Monash University, University of Wollongong, Deakin University, The University of Western Australia, Griffith University, The University of Notre Dame Australia, The Flinders University of South Australia, The University of Queensland and The University of Melbourne.