UCL student entrepreneurs launch lockdown tutoring service

Two UCL medics have set up their own business to help school students who have had their studies affected by recent school closures

We spoke to Kunal and Mohil, two UCL Medics who founded the company Medic Mind a 1-1 online tutoring service for school students applying for Medical, Dental and Veterinary schools across the UK. Over the past two years their organisation has grown enormously, beginning with a £50 investment into recording video tutorials on the BMAT and UKCAT, they’ve now tutored over 10,000 students worldwide, and have clients in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

One of their key aims is to widen participation and place disadvantaged applicants on an even footing with their wealthier peers. They have recognised the increased need for online programmes because many other widening participation schemes have been cancelled due to the current situation. In response to this, they have set up a bursary scheme open to anyone who is on a widening participation scheme in the UK, through the Medic Mind Foundation.

We asked Kunal and Mohil some questions about Medic Mind, as well as their response to the lockdown:

What Inspired you to set up Medic Mind? 

We had been there before in sixth form wanting to apply for medical school but struggled to find the right resources to navigate all the hurdles of applying, like the entrance exams and interview. Coming from a background of not knowing anyone who was a doctor, it became that little bit harder.

We knew preparation courses existed but we found they were quite generic and out of touch with the average 17 year old. Additionally for many living in rural parts of the country or international applicants these resources were inaccessible.

We wanted to build a rapport with our students and give them a personal point of contact by giving them their own mentor. We wanted to ensure this service was personalised, affordable and accessible hence we built our online 1-1 mentoring system, which can be accessed anywhere around the world with our students paying a third of what they would pay our competitors.

 Did UCL help you set up Medic Mind?

UCLs Entrepreneur Society was very helpful in our growth phase – their team provided lots of advice and tips on how to grow and manage the company. When you start a company, it can often be quite overwhelming and scary, however the work UCL Entrepreneur Society do is great. If you are thinking of starting a business, I would definitely contact them as they have lots of advice for entrepreneurs.

We’ve also worked with schools nationwide, charities and organisations including the NHS. We are now also working with organisations looking to widen participation on a university scale.

What is your tutor base?

When we started, it was actually just Kunal and I doing all the teaching. 6 months later we grew to 10 tutors, 12 months it was 50 and now 24 months later we currently employ 96 tutors all over the UK from over 27 universities!

We recruit tutors from each universitys medical, dental and veterinary schools and match them up to our tutees who are applying to the same university. This means that if a student has an interview at UCL, they can speak to a UCL mentor and get insight into the UCL curriculum and tips on their UCL interview based on their previous experience.

All our 1-1 tutoring is undertaken online, so whether our tutor is from Edinburgh Medical School or Kings Dental School they can connect with their student in minutes – wherever they are – using our online platform.

Teaching is a core aspect of a future career as a doctor, dentist or vet and so many are keen to get stuck in early on and gain experience that will make them more proficient in their future careers.

How many of these are UCL students?

We currently have 16 UCL Medical Students who are tutors for us. All our tutors are fantastic,  particularly with UCL Medical Students because so many of them have been involved in the university’s Transition Mentor scheme. 

As well as tutoring, we also have a fantastic team of freelance workers. Krunal Patel, a 4th Year UCL Medic, single-handedly designed our website and Dhaval Nayi, a current UCL Masters Student, oversees the financial side of the company.

What is Medic Mind’s reaction to the crisis we are facing currently?

Naturally, it’s been difficult for many of our team who are medical students as many have had to return home due to cancelled placements.Unfortunately for some of our tutors, home is thousands of miles away, e.g. Malaysia and Singapore.  Many others who are UK-based are keen to help the NHS with volunteering, however this is unrealistic for many due to the risks involved.

Consequently with this added free time, many have taken up additional jobs for us such as writing resources for our tutors and articles for our new website. This has allowed us to pool resources towards school students still in need of vital tuition. 

What steps are you taking to help these A Level and GCSE students in difficult academic situations?

After it was announced that school was cancelled, it left many parents, teachers and students confused about how they would continue their learning at home.To help combat this, we recently launched a free YouTube online course for GCSE and A-Level called Study Mind. We’ve worked with teachers, examiners and former students to build these resources and have had lots of positive feedback so far.

As well as the free videos on Youtube, we also built a question bank for students so they can use what they learn in our videos and apply it to our past paper bank – https://studymind.co.uk/resources/

Do you have people taking action on the frontlines as well?

For those who are still living close to their medical school or near a hospital many have signed up to volunteer on the frontline. They have spoken about the reality of the disease and how overwhelmed hospitals have become due to its impact. Many have spoken about the lack of personal protective equipment available to them however have requested to remain anonymous. We have massive admiration for those who are able to do this and help the NHS at this crucial time.

Do you have any more plans you will be putting in effect as the situation continues?

We want to continue our ethos of e-learning and will be uploading a YouTube tutorial every 3 days starting from next week on the entrance exams and also tips on applying for medical, dental and vet school. We also want to help employees who may have been furloughed and are looking for some extra work. We would be happy to take them on – they just need to fill out a contact form on our website which can be found here.

Medic Mind is just one of many examples of students stepping up to the mark across the country and answering the national call for assistance during this time of crisis.