Royal College of Psychiatrists to freeze exam fees in response to surplus

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  07 Jun 2012

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has agreed to freeze membership examination fees for 2013 and offer a 15% reduction for registered affiliates and trainees after it was revealed that the college made a surplus of £604 000 on fees for its membership examinations in 2011.

Fees for Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists examinations are not set with the intention of generating a profit, said Wendy Burn, dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The surplus arose in 2011 because more doctors sat the exams than were anticipated, the college has said in a statement. Fees are set far in advance, and it is difficult to estimate accurately the number of candidates who will sit the examinations, which makes it hard to be accurate in budget setting, it said. “We are addressing the timing of the budget cycle to avoid this difficulty in future,” said Dr Burn.

The college has suggested using the excess money from the examinations to develop an online revision course for membership examinations, although it has said it will welcome trainees’ input into how this money should be spent.

The three written MRCPsych exams and the clinical assessment of skills and competencies (CASC) cost £2120 in total, which many trainees pay out of their own pocket.

In these cash strapped times colleges do need to make sure they’re financially stable, but it is unacceptable for colleges to make a profit out of trainees, said Andrew Collier, a psychiatry trainee and vice chairman of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee. “I cannot countenance that my college makes such large sums of money from very hard pressed trainees,” he said. “Trainees are not cash cows and shouldn’t be treated as such.”

The college should instead have cost neutral examinations and any money that they do make should be spent on furthering trainees’ opportunities and providing resources for trainees, he said.

Delegates at the BMA’s Junior Doctors Conference last month passed a motion calling for all royal colleges to be transparent in how they use monies raised by examination fees.

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

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