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An RCSI spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that €23,958 was allocated in 2015/16 and €24,113 in 2016/2017. “Not all of the monies were spent in each year. When this happens, the unspent amount is deducted by the HEA from the following year’s allocation.”
In 2016, one applicant who was undertaking the physician associates (PA) postgraduate course was refused funding, although the College said it introduced a separate “RCSI accommodation/travel assistance fund” for PA students in July 2017. The successful applicants in 2016 were all medical degree students and funding provision ranged from €500 to €7,455. In 2015, the five recipients were also all studying medicine, while one medical student was refused.
The HEA Student Assistance Fund cannot be used for tuition fees, with the RCSI’s spokesperson noting that the HEA set the criteria for the fund.
Separately the RCSI Alumni Hardship fund, which is aimed at non-EU students requiring “emergency financial assistance”, provided funding to four students in each of the years 2015 and 2016. Four medical students received a combined €8,095 in 2016, with individual funds ranging from €817 to €3,390. In 2015, three medical students and one physiotherapy student received funding totalling €4,950 and ranging from €250 to €2,200. There were no applicants refused under the fund.
Asked about the low level of applicants to the RCSI Alumni Hardship Fund, the College spokesperson commented: “Many of our non-EU students are sponsored by their governments who ensure the essential costs of study are covered in their stipends. Other students may be on government/federal loans from their home country where tuition and living expenses are part of the loan.”
The fund is “well advertised” across College locations in Dublin through the students’ union, on the College website, information screens and student newsletters, they added.
The RCSI had an operating surplus of €21 million for the year ended 30 September 2016.