Waikato Medical School FAQs

What is the proposal?

The University of Waikato, working with the Waikato District Health Board, has put a business case to the Government for a new Waikato Medical School, which would be the third in New Zealand.

The proposal outlines a medical degree programme that is internationally recognised and unique in this country.

Students who have an undergraduate degree in any discipline would be able to apply for entry, and the School would take 60 students in its first year.

As part of the proposal, students will receive four years of intensive, practical medical education, of the same quality and standing as the country’s existing six year medical degrees.

The Waikato Medical School would involve communities in the design of the programme, selection of students, and their training, and there would be a genuine partnership and involvement with iwi and Māori communities, across all key aspects of the programme.

Has the Government made a final decision on the proposal?

In November 2018, the Government announced they will not be proceeding with a new rural medical school.

The University of Waikato remains committed to building a healthier New Zealand for all and we believe a third medical school will be needed in the near future - to meet health workforce needs, to provide diversity in entry pathways and training options, and to produce the diversity in health workforce outcomes that New Zealand needs to provide healthcare for its population.

The University of Waikato looks forward to working with the Government, Tertiary Education Commission and Ministry of Health to contribute innovative thinking about the issues facing New Zealand’s rural workforce.

Why do we need a third medical school?

There is a shortage of doctors in particular specialities and regions, so we need to recruit a different sort of student, and train a different sort of doctor. New Zealand is relying heavily on doctors trained in other countries, with approximately 1100 recruited every year, most of whom stay for only a short time. The number of GPs is dwindling, and the rate of vacancies in rural general practice is high.

Why Waikato?

The Waikato region is booming, putting pressure on services that are already struggling to provide health care to a large geographical area with a high proportion of communities with high health needs.

The greatest shortages of doctors are in provincial and rural areas. The Midland region has 13% fewer doctors than the rest of the country.

The University of Waikato has the expertise and commitment to help fill the gaps. Based in Hamilton, there would also be clinical education and training centres throughout the central North Island. The aim is to have half the graduates specialise as GPs, outside the main centres, and all graduates would train and work in local communities before going on to serve in them.

What would the programme look like?

The curriculum would meet the Australian Medical Council (AMC) standards for accreditation. The programme would build on proven models and international best practice, customised to address New Zealand communities and New Zealand health issues, including Māori health.

Who can apply?

In the proposal, students would need an undergraduate degree in any discipline from any recognised university, with some minimum scores on specific tests. Grades will be one of the entry criteria, but personal aptitude, demonstrated links with provincial, rural and high-needs communities, and commitment to the ethos of the Medical School will be used to decide who is accepted.

Will Scholarships be available?

The University would work with communities to provide scholarships for outstanding students who want to train at the new Medical School.

For more details about the proposal for a Waikato Medical School, go to the Business Case.