The Student Voice Prize

Frequently asked questions

Who can enter the competition?

The competition is primarily aimed at medical students, but anyone studying medical and biological sciences (spanning courses such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, biology, genetics, biomedical science, pharmacology, kinesiology etc.) will be able to answer the questions.

Entries may be submitted by those studying other courses, but it is recommended that such entries focus on a personal experience with a rare condition.

Do I have to be paired with a patient group to enter an essay?


You can submit an essay without taking part in the patient pairing scheme.

What can you win?

Who judges the competition?

The competition is judged by an independent panel of judges with life sciences, medical and patient advocacy backgrounds selected by the SVP team.

Can I enter if I'm outside of the UK?

Yes. The competition is international and we accept entries from all over the world, we even have a shortlist specifically for non-native English speakers! Check out our prizes page to find out more here.

All essays must be written in English. 

Can I enter if I'm a PhD student?

You cannot enter an essay into the competition if you are a PhD student.

Can I enter more than one essay?

You can only enter one essay overall into the competition per year.

Can I enter if I've entered in the past?

You can enter the competition year after year, you may wish to explore a new subject and use different case studies with every entry.

Resubmissions will not be allowed.

If I don't win, can I publish my essay elsewhere?

Your essay is your own work and therefore if you do not win the competition or place on any of the shortlists, it is permissible for you to publish or share the essay in other places.  The Student Voice Prize team cannot offer you any guidance or assistance in publishing your essay externally. 

If you have been paired with a patient group advocate, it is permissible for the patient group to post the essay on their website or blog after the competition has finished and the winners have been announced, only if the paired student is not a winner, runner up or shortlisted and the patient group gets the permission of the author.

If the essay was written by a winner or runner up we ask that the patient group does not publish the essay in full but rather links to the published essay on the Orphanet or the Biomed Central website in order to drive traffic there.

What's the wordcount?

The essay can be up to 1,500 words in length.

Where do I submit my essay?

Visit our ‘How to enter’ page to submit your essay

The patient pairing scheme

**Please note, the patient pairing scheme is now closed for patients and students, but you can still enter the competition without it!**

Do I get to choose who I'm paired with?

It’s important to us that participating students get as much out of the pairing process as possible. In the submission form for the scheme, students are asked if there are any particular body systems or specific rare diseases they are interested in. We endeavour to match students to patients according to these requirements.

Can I be paired with a patient group and not submit an essay?

The patient pairing scheme is part of the Student Voice Prize, therefore, in order to respect the time and energy of the patient group advocate, it is expected that all paired students who have had a conversation with an advocate will subsequently write an essay. This should be taken into consideration when applying to be paired through the pairing scheme.

Am I guaranteed to be paired?

We endeavor to pair all students and patient groups who apply, however, depending on how many apply for and the preferences of the students we cannot guarantee everyone will be paired.

Am I guaranteed to be paired with a patient?

You may be paired with a patient, a patient advocate or a family member.

The pairing you receive will depend upon which individual from the patient group has applied to be paired. Most people in the rare community (whether a parent, carer or advocate) is likely to have some level of lived experience and understanding of the patient experience due to being involved in the community and therefore are very valuable to talk to. With some conditions, it is more difficult to talk directly to patients as they might be children for example.

Can I be paired more than once?

We endeavour to pair every student that applies to be paired with one patient or advocate. In order to make sure everyone has access to a pairing, we cannot pair you more than once unless in exceptional circumstances.