Graduate Entry Medicine students have called on UCD to reduce tuition fees and are demanding a freeze on future increases. A majority of the current GEM class have elected to withhold fees in protest of these increases.
The tuition fees currently stand at €16,290 for Irish students, and €55,140 for non-EU students. These fees have seen an increase of €1,000 and €3,000 respectively in the last three years. The practice of fee-increasing annually was approved without the consultation of students, resulting in additional financial difficulties for such students.
Conor Anderson, President of UCD Students’ Union, who has been working with this group of students since mid-July stated in a press release that, “the increases have been described as ‘annual inflationary increases,’ yet students have not seen any benefit from the extra money being spent. In fact, class sizes have increased since 2018, which means already-limited services are under even more pressure.”
The campaign led by GEM students has been brought on as a result of UCD providing “unacceptable” excuses for denying the reduction or freezing of tuition fees. They were told by University staff that that they have time to “budget” for these increased expenses, and therefore the fees would not be reduced”.
Anderson recognised a potential problem for Ireland’s healthcare system in that “Ireland already suffers from a shortage of junior doctors available to work, and the rampant increase in debt is only exacerbating that shortage” as many students are worried they will be “forced to emigrate in order to earn the money necessary to pay” the ever-increasing debt they are in.
This increase in the cost of studying medicine at graduate level was described by Anderson as “an insurmountable barrier for average students to pursue a career in medicine”. He noted that “a medical career should not be available only to those with money in the bank”.
Mahnoor Choudhry – Deputy News Editor