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BOI decision to discontinue graduate medical student loan ‘catastrophic’

Bank of Ireland’s determination to discontinue a mortgage out there to graduate medical college students has been described as a “catastrophic” transfer which can “remove the last viable option” for college students from numerous backgrounds to develop into medical doctors.

Fees have elevated year-on-year since 2017 for such college students and now stand at €16,290 for Irish college students and €55,140 for non-EU college students, representing a rise of €1,000 and €3,000 respectively since 2017.

Irish college students looking for financial institution loans to cowl the price of the course’s charges have beforehand complained that the charges already outstripped the utmost out there financial institution mortgage, capped at €15,000 every year, from Bank of Ireland.

Graduate entry college students are those that have begun a medical diploma having already secured a separate undergraduate diploma, corresponding to common science, earlier than sitting the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) exams and starting Medicine as a postgraduate.

A minimal of a second class honours undergraduate diploma is required. Although solely graduates are eligible, it’s equal in normal to the undergraduate Medicine diploma.

Due to the course being a second diploma of the identical stage, college students usually are not eligible for grants.

However, the beforehand out there mortgage is now to be phased out by BOI from July.

“This removes the last viable option for students to progress. It’s catastrophic and the State needs to respond by ensuring the gap is addressed either through a reduction in fees or appropriate funding,” Ruairí Power, UCD Students’ Union President mentioned.

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,” he mentioned.

The outcomes of a survey accomplished by Irish GEM college students final week from 4 faculties which provide the course confirmed 92 per cent mentioned they might require exterior monetary help to pay college charges.

Of these surveyed, 74 per cent both presently have or would have ultimately sought to avail of the BOI mortgage. Most college students who responded to the survey have been additionally paying lease.

‘Nasty surprise’

One UCD scholar instructed the Irish Times the choice would “certainly hamstring students from low and middle income backgrounds that may have already sat the GAMSAT and are awaiting a college offer.”

“Add rent and cost of living, and commuting costs on top of this for people from the country like myself and you can really see the programme is incredibly cost prohibitive,” he mentioned.

The determination to section out the mortgage got here as a “nasty surprise” to present college students who’re presently making ready for summer time exams.

“This loan is the only financial support option at the moment for people considering this course. The panic and distress is really palpable,” one other scholar at UCD mentioned.

“The loan wasn’t fit for purpose but it was our only option. This will limit the diversity of people the course is accessible to.”

A spokesman for Bank of Ireland mentioned the mortgage had required a parental assure “which was not an option for all students”.

“The deferral of repayments meant accumulated debt by the end of the term. It has accounted for a very small volume of our overall lending and the number of applications has dropped in recent years, while our other loans became more popular,” the spokesman mentioned.

The Department of Higher Education mentioned it might be “seeking further information” concerning the discontinuation of the mortgage. The spokesman mentioned some college students on the GEM course “may also be eligible to apply to the Student Assistance Fund”.

This fund doesn’t cowl tuition charges or scholar mortgage repayments however helps with prices corresponding to books, meals and journey.

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