The government has received a flood of bids from universities eager to win a share of the 1,000 extra medical students promised by 2005.

The deadline for bids for 750 new medical school places, to be phased in from October 2000, closed last week. More than 200 places have already been allocated to the 1999 intake for existing medical schools. Shortlisted applicants will present their cases in April and May, with a final decision due in July.

Two bids involve the Open University. It hopes to work with Exeter and Plymouth universities to create a medical school. It has also put in a bid for 82 foundation places for students who would train at Leeds University. But Sussex University, once tipped as having some of the most ambitious plans, has shelved the idea of a new undergraduate medical school.