Written answers

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Medical Research and Training

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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637. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the training pathways, including third-level undergraduate and postgraduate pathways, currently in place for each of the medical professions; the numbers availing of these annually; the cost per person for each pathway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36863/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is responsible for collecting, analysing and disseminating student and graduate data from all HEA-funded higher education institutions (HEIs).

There follows first-year enrolments on both undergraduate and graduate entry medicine degree programmes for the 2018/19 academic year. Data in relation to enrolments in the 2019/2020 academic year is currently being returned by institutions to the HEA for collation and audit. This process has been delayed due to the impact of COVID-19. The data will be published on the HEA's website: www.hea.ie when available.

Medicine 2018/19 - Year 1 Enrolments*

Institution Undergraduate Graduate Entry Total
University College Dublin 122 105 227
University College Cork 128 81 209
NUI Galway 278 278
Trinity College Dublin 194 194
University of Limerick 140 140
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland 182 89 271
Total 904 415 1,319

*includes EU and Non-EU students

In addition, I refer the Deputy to my answer to PQ No. 24860 of 22 September 2020 which contains data on the number of students enrolled in medicine degree programmes for the academic period 2007/2008 to 2018/2019.

Entry to medicine in Irish HEIs is provided through both undergraduate and graduate entry routes.

Medicine provided at undergraduate level is offered in five higher education institutions including, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In order to gain entry into an undergraduate medicine degree programme in Ireland, students are required to apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO) and meet the necessary entry requirements which includes completing the Health Professions Admission Test (HPAT).

Graduate Entry Medicine is offered in four higher education institutions including University College Dublin, University College Cork, University of Limerick and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Applicants who have completed an NFQ Level 8 (minimum 2.1 award) or equivalent in their first undergraduate degree can apply for entry to graduate medicine. Applicants are also required to sit the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admission Test).

HEIs operate access and foundation courses that act as an alternative means of entry for students to higher education courses. Many HEIs also participate in the Higher Education Access Route (HEAR) and Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) schemes which offer places on courses on a reduced points basis to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and students with disabilities. The operation of HEAR and DARE schemes, the number of places available and which courses are covered is a matter for each HEI.

It is estimated that the average cost of a medical student is c. €25,000 - €30,000 per student per year.

In light of the stronger than usual set of Leaving Certificate results received this year as a results of Calculated Grades, a decision was made that additional places would be made available on high-demand higher education courses in order to ease anxieties among students and offset pressures on the system.

After engagement with HEIs to identify where there was capacity in the system to create these places, given financial support from DFHERIS, 2,225 additional places were made available in advance of Round One offers. These places were created in a broad range of courses across many disciplines, and include courses in areas of very high demand such as healthcare, science and teacher education.

The cost of these places to the end of 2020 is approximately €7 million, which will be met from the Department’s existing allocation. The cost in 2021, to the end of the 2020/21 academic year is estimated at €20 million and this funding has been secured in Budget 2021. Funding of €27 million per academic year thereafter will be needed for the duration of these courses.

As the Deputy will be aware, the fee payable by a student can vary depending on a variety factors including the type of course and the student's access route including previous education.

Under the Department’s free fees schemes, the Exchequer provides funding toward the tuition fee costs of eligible undergraduate Higher Education students with students paying the student contribution. The student contribution fee is currently set at €3,000 per annum and can be paid in instalments. In addition, the Exchequer pays the contribution in full or part, through SUSI, for approximately 44% of students eligible for free fees.

Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) is one of the pathways to study undergraduate medicine. Students pursuing GEM programmes do so as second degree courses and consequently are not eligible for free fees funding or for student grants. However, in order to widen access to GEM programmes, and give assistance towards the financial burden on each student pursuing these programmes, the fees of participating EU students are partly subsidised by the State via the HEA. Currently, the subsidy is €11,200 per student with the balance of fees payable by the student.

Where students do not qualify for free fees funding, they pay the appropriate fee, either EU or Non-EU, as determined by each HEI. The institutions are autonomous bodies and the level of fee payable by students who do not meet the requirements of the free fees scheme is a matter for the relevant institution to determine in accordance with their own criteria.

An annual quota applies to the intake of EU students to medical education in the State. Thereafter, the number of places allocated to non-EU students is a matter for the individual HEI concerned with the availability of clinical placements being an important factor in this regard.

In broader terms the HEA has also provided data detailing course enrolments on health and welfare related courses in higher education in 2018/2019. See below.


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