Published: 16:26, 29 October 2019
| Updated: 09:58, 30 October 2019
The new Kent and Medway Medical School in Canterbury has been swamped with applications from prospective students.
The facility, being built on the University of Kent campus, is not due to open until September 2020.
But the first round of recruitment has just closed with 1,400 applications for the 100 places available in the first year.
And that, say bosses, bodes well for providing a future supply of highly-trained new doctors, especially GPs, to address the "chronic shortage" in the region.
Founding Dean, Prof Chris Holland, says he is delighted with the response from those keen to study there and that so many applicants are from Kent.
"We see the amazing potential for the next generation of health professionals to shape our future, drawing from a diverse and wide pool of talent from Kent, Medway and further afield," he added.
The state-of-the-art facility is a joint venture between the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University. Students will study at both dedicated KMMS at the UKC and at Christ Church's new new Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM) building, also due to open in September.
The medical school will offer 100 places a year for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery five-year degree courses. During their studies they will have hands-on experience with placements in primary, community, mental health and secondary care settings across Kent and Medway.
The applicants now have to go through a stringent assessment process in order to gain a sought-after place.
Bosses say the new school will be "a beacon for first class medical education and research", and the first choice for all those aspiring to achieve excellence in medical care in the UK.
And they hope that once qualified, many of the new young doctors will continue to work in Kent and Medway.
The project has also fuelled optimism among campaigners calling for a new Kent and Canterbury Hospital to be built in the city. But that decision has yet to be taken by health chiefs.
The 2,500sqm building, which will include a 150-seat lecture theatre, is being funded with a grant from Health Education England as well as significant contributions from both universities.
The medical school's website says it also aims to raise £30 million in philanthropic funding to support the project - which could be secured through grants, corporate partners and benefactors.
As well as contributing to the Medical School’s state-of-art facilities, the money will provide bursaries for students and create new clinical and academic posts.