Many of China’s less prestigious medical schools find it hard to recruit students to train as doctors and othersfind that students with lower scores on the national university entrance exam,or gaokao, will use the lower requirements of some medical schools togain entry to university, only to transfer later to faculties with higher earning potential.

"Compared to western countries, the social status and incomeof doctors in China is not the highest, so [some medical schools] definitelyare not able to attract the best students and the result is that the profession of doctors is not the most elite in Chinese society," says Huang Gang,vice-dean of Jiaotong University medical school in Shanghai.

Top medical faculties such as Jiaotong usually havelittle problem filling their quota for students with good marks, he says, adding that he would prefer to lower his grade expectations if the student is truly committed to studying medicine. He says only about 5 per cent of Jiaotong medical students transfer to another faculty each year. But less elite medical schools, such as the one at Xiamen University where Dr Wang studied, struggle to fill available spaces. Xiamen medical school recently waived all fees for those training to be doctors, to attract better candidates.