May 19 2008 Posted: 00:00 IST
The Academic Councils of the four Universities with undergraduate medical schools, NUI Galway, TCD, UCC and UCD together with the RCSI have given their approval for new selection criteria for undergraduate entry to Medicine which adds a new test dimension to the traditional Leaving Certificate entry route. The Minister for Education and Science Batt O'Keefe TD welcomed the introduction of the new arrangements. The admission test for entry in 2009 will take place on Saturday 14 February in test centres in Cork, Dublin, Galway, the North-West and the South-East at a cost of approximately €95 per candidate. An information brochure outlining the details of the new selection criteria is being sent to all secondary schools during May 2008. Further details are available from any of the University or RCSI admissions offices. The new proposals represent the implementation of key recommendations of the Fottrell report which was approved by Government in 2006, for the reform of medical education. Under the new arrangements, students will sit a separate admissions test and their results will be combined with their Leaving Certificate Examination to create a new admission route to undergraduate medicine for 2009. As well as the mandatory subjects, a threshold of 480 points in the same sitting of the Leaving Certificate will be required to be eligible. Leaving Certificate points up to 550 will count as normal and above this level, each band of 5 points will be given 1 point extra only. For example, a student with 555 points will be credited with 551 points, a student with 560 points will be credited with 552 points. The maximum Leaving Certificate point score will translate to 560. The new admissions test is called HPAT- Ireland (Health Professions Admission Test – Ireland). The test will have a maximum score of 300. The students' marks will be combined to a total maximum achievable mark of 860. Commenting, on behalf of the Irish Medical Schools, on the new admission route Professor Bill Powderly, stressed the importance of the design of the new test. "A crucial element of the test is that it measures the student's ability rather than prepared learning and this avoids a situation whereby scores could be improved through repeated testing and grind courses." The HPAT – Ireland test which was chosen through an international tender process will be independently administered by ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research). HPAT- Ireland examines mental ability, reasoning, personal skills and professional attributes. Following the Fottrell Report (2006) Medical Education in Ireland: A New Direction, Report of the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training, the cap on undergraduate medical places for EU students was raised from 305 to 480, spread across the four university medical schools and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. When both the undergraduate and graduate entry routes come fully on stream the annual intake to medicine for EU students will be 720. The Universities and RCSI fully support the principles of the reform outlined in the Fottrell Report and the combination of additional places and the new selection criteria for entry is good news for those competing for entry to undergraduate medicine.