Bank of Ireland announced its loan aimed at Graduate Entry Medicine students is to be discontinued from July of this year, resulting in a significant decrease in those who will be able to afford to access it. The fees for the course, after steady increases, stand at €16,290 for Irish students and €55,140 for international students.

University College Dublin’s Students’ Union President, Ruairí Power commented to the Irish Times that the discontinuation of the loan “removes the last viable option for students to progress”. He went on to state that the “GEM course was “brought in to make sure there’s a diverse range of people put forward to the medical centre … We need to make sure nobody is left in the lurch by Bank of Ireland’s decision”.

The loan, which was already capped at €15,000 per year, did not reflect the rising fees of the course. Despite this, a survey conducted by the Times showed that 92% of students across four colleges require financial assistance to participate in the course. Of those surveyed, 72% were reliant on the BOI loan.

Many have voiced concerns to Dublin Live with some stating that the move could cause a “shortage of medical doctors nationally down the line”. The move has been criticised as creating a barrier to education for those from more disadvantaged financial backgrounds.

UCDSU President, Power stated that “the State needs to respond by ensuring the gap is addressed either through a reduction in fees or appropriate funding”.

Last year, the College Tribune reported that graduate entry medicine students at UCD will have their fees frozen for the following two years. The fee freeze was not guaranteed to stay in place for the academic year of 2022/2023. GEM students have been fighting for fee freezes since 2020 when they began to withhold fees in protest of the rising cost of the course.

Mahnoor Choudhry – Co-Editor