The ASPIRE award programme was established to go beyond the traditional accreditation process, and to identify, recognise and reward world-class excellence in education. The aim of the programme is to highlight, showcase and exemplify best-practice in healthcare professions education, improving the education process and outcomes of other institutions around the world.

Each year applications open for Medical, Dental or Veterinary Schools from across the globe to submit examples of their greatest achievements in a variety of areas, to be assessed against the defined criteria for excellence, set by a board and panels of international leaders and experts in their field.

What are the benefits of winning an ASPIRE award? 

Winning an ASPIRE to Excellence award comes with a number of reputational benefits, highlighting your institution nationally and internationally as a global leader in the areas awarded. 
Winning institutions can also clearly demonstrate to their students, staff and other stakeholders that the quest for excellence in education is part of their school’s vision and mission, and can also highlight that the educational experience at the school, in the awarded areas, is amongst the best available in the world. 

Your institution also becomes part of an exclusive network of ASPIRE winning schools recognized for their excellence in education.

How to apply

Download and complete the application form below for your chosen area of assessment and return the completed form to Once submitted, each application is reviewed by a team of three assessors who submit their report to be considered by the relevant ASPIRE panel. Recommendations from the panel are then endorsed by the ASPIRE Board. 

The standard charge per submission is £2,500 for each Area of Excellence to be assessed, this is reduced to £2,000 per submission for two or more submissions in the same twelve month period.
The charge for institutions from emerging economies is £1,500 per submission, and £1,250 for two or more submissions in the same calendar year. View the list of emerging economies to see if your institution is eligible for this. Payment must be received before submissions are sent out for review, and re-submissions will be accepted within three years of the original application.  The charge for a resubmission is £2,000.

The Areas of Excellence

Schools can opt to submit applications for ASPIRE to excellence awards in any of the following areas: 

Assessment of Students

For an institution to be regarded as achieving excellence in the area of assessment, there should be evidence of an outstanding programme of assessment. This can be demonstrated to actively promote learning in order to achieve the curriculum objectives, provide a fair assessment of learner achievement, and ensure patient safety by only allowing competent individuals to progress and graduate. The notion of excellence also embodies the active engagement with scholarship and a desire to seek continuous improvement in the area of assessment of competence.

Download the application criteria

Download the Assessment of Students application form

Curriculum Development

A curriculum is a statement of the intended aims and objectives, experiences, outcomes and processes of an educational programme (Grant, 2006). A curriculum describes all the ways in which a training or teaching organisation plans and guides learning. This learning can take place in groups or with individual learners. It can take place inside or outside a classroom. It can take place in an institutional setting like a school, college or training centre, or in a village or a field. It is central to the teaching and learning process (Rogers and Taylor 1998).

Download the application criteria

Download the Curriculum Development application form

Faculty Development

An applicant school may have a single centralized program or a decentralized series of programs of faculty development to enhance teaching/education, leadership and scholarship. Applicants will describe the total array of the school’s faculty development programs in the application summary and will specify whether the application will describe the whole series of programs OR focus on the specific program that prepares teachers and educators, educational leaders and educational scholars. The program must include a focus on those who teach undergraduate students but may also include those who teach postgraduates and practicing clinicians. The school’s designated program(s) will constitute “the program of faculty development” for the ASPIRE program application and be assessed using the criteria for excellence.

Download the application criteria

Download the Faculty Development application form

Inspirational Approaches to Health Professions Education

In line with ASPIRE’s aim of recognising excellence in heath professions education and veterinary science, the need had been identified to recognise schools where there is evidence of excellence in education not addressed or captured in other ASPIRE categories specified to date or where resources are limited to satisfy all the criteria within a particular area due to certain economic or cultural limitations– which the school or institution has overcome to demonstrate impact and excellence. This new initiative will contribute to the ASPIRE aim of supporting international excellence in health professions in whatever form or context it manifests. We also hope it will encourage schools, colleges or institutions to apply for recognition for their initiatives and efforts. The proposed new category for ASPIRE submissions recognises that excellence exists in a range of ways in various contexts. This should encourage schools, colleges and institutions and indeed the health care professions education community more widely to think in different ways of how excellence in education can manifest.

Download the application criteria

Download the Inspirational Approaches application form


Simulation in healthcare education is a “technique, not a technology that replaces or amplifies real experiences with guided experiences that evoke or replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive manner” (Gaba 2004). Simulation may include a range of technologies and educational contexts that include but are not limited to: simulated (standardized patients), simple and partial task trainers, full body patient mannequins, virtual reality, augmented reality, haptic, hybrid models, and simulated environments. An institution that has achieved excellence in healthcare simulation education ensures it is well-designed (embedded in appropriate educational theory), and integrated into the curriculum, uses it as an adjunct to patient or health systems care training and/or assessment experiences, and provides for outcome driven measures that are continuously evaluated for quality and improvement.

Download the application criteria

Download the Simulation application form

Social Accountability of the school

The essence of the social accountability of a school is their engaging, partnering with, and responding to the needs of their communities, regions and nation (noting that some social accountability activities may involve all three levels whereas others may predominately involve the community, or region, or nation).

Download the application criteria

Download the Social Accountability application form

Student Engagement in the curriculum and in the school

For a school/institution to be regarded as achieving excellence in student engagement, there must be specific evidence provided in the application that students actively participate in a variety of areas within and external to the academic community and that they are consulted about and formally participate in shaping the teaching and learning experience.

Download the application criteria

Download the application form

Technology Enhanced Learning

There is no ‘universal’ definition of Technology Enhanced Learning  (Kirkwood & Price 2014) but a useful broad definition is that used by the AMEE Technology Enhanced Learning Committee: “enhancing teaching and learning by the use of general education technologies with special emphasis on the education pedagogies underlying their use.” Technology is increasingly used in both simulation and in the provision of healthcare (medical informatics) but applicants are advised to carefully consider the appropriateness of activities in their application for ASPIRE Recognition of Excellence in Technology Enhanced Learning

Download the application criteria

Download the TEL application form

International Collaboration in Health Profession's Education

For the purposes of the ASPIRE award in International Collaboration, we intend to define collaboration as the purposeful action of working with others for mutual benefit that extends beyond the organisations themselves and involves a sharing of responsibilities and power. Collaborations should be able to demonstrate the additional benefits and value that the collaboration brings, over and above what each entity can achieve alone.

Download the International Collaboration application form

The criteria for excellence in each area is set and assessed by international leaders and experts in each field, as well as practicing teachers and students. If you have any questions about any aspect of ASPIRE to Excellence, please contact us at

Aspire Winners 2021

Further reading on the ASPIRE to Excellence Initiative

The ASPIRE initiative or its ideas feature in the following articles: 

Hunt D, Klamen D, Harden RM, Ali F. “The ASPIRE-to-Excellence Program: A Global Effort to Improve the Quality of Medical Education.” Acad Med. 2018 Aug;93(8):1117-1119.  PMID: 29261539. 

Rourke, J. “Social Accountability: A Framework for Medical Schools to Improve the Health of the Populations they Serve.” Acad Med. 2018, 93:1120–1124.   

Boelen C, Pearson D, Kaufman A, Rourke J, Woollard B, Marsh D, Gibbs T. “Producing a socially accountable medical school” AMEE Guide No. 109, Medical Teacher 2016(11) 1078-1091.  

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