Scotland’s five medical schools will collaborate over the next six months in a feasibility study on the shared concept of an International Virtual Medical School (IVIMEDS).

The medical schools at the Universities of Dundee, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews will receive support from leading medical schools in the US, Australasia and other parts of the UK. Scottish Knowledge and Scottish Enterprise have added their financial backing to the initial studies.

The study will look at: how Scottish medical schools can collaborate in e-learning; whether the virtual approach is sustainable within the five schools; e-learning and other intellectual property available within the five schools and possible collaboration with international academic partners.

Professor John Sizer, chief executive of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC), said, “I am pleased to announce the award of £90,000 from SHEFC to support this feasibility study. It is an exciting development for the future of medical education in Scotland. The study will investigate whether the project is academically and financially viable and whether getting involved in IVIMEDS would be in the interests of medical education in Scotland and internationally.”

Sir Alan Langlands, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Dundee University, which is leading the collaboration, said, “The development of IVIMEDS provides a unique opportunity to achieve greater coherence in Scotland’s medical schools, building bridges across institutional boundaries and developing leading edge work in distance learning and continuing professional development.

“The reputation of Scottish medical education and the Centre for Medical Education in Dundee is respected across the world – this project will keep us in the lead and ensure that we make effective use of new technologies in our education programmes.”

The study will look at under- and post-graduate e-learning. Scottish Health Minister, Susan Deacon, voicing her support for the project, added that the NHS was also committed to providing learning tools for today’s staff as well as tomorrow’s. She said a broad package of learning tools for Scottish NHS staff would be announced this week.