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Medical education funding model may be ‘unsustainable’ – IMSC

The model for funding Irish medical education will become unsustainable if international students cannot access an internship in Ireland or their home country, the Chair of the Irish Medical Schools Council (IMSC) has warned Minister for Health Simon Harris.

The letter from Ms Carmel Malone, on behalf of the heads of Ireland’s six medical schools, followed the decision by Singaporean authorities to remove 57 overseas medical schools – including four in Ireland – from its list of overseas medical schools with registrable basic medical qualifications, effective from January 2020.

NUI Galway, RCSI, University College Cork, and University College Dublin were removed from the list, with Trinity College Dublin retained. The Singapore Ministry of Health said the list was reviewed downwards as the country now trains more doctors locally.

“The delivery of medical education to our own CAO entrants, as well as internationally renowned medical research programmes, is dependent in all our institutions on the funding derived from the recruitment of international students,” wrote Ms Malone, a consultant surgeon who heads NUI Galway School of Medicine.

“This market is increasingly competitive and challenging and without the possibility of obtaining full registration through internship (either in Ireland or in their home country), after graduation, we will no longer be able to attract these students and the current funding model will become unsustainable.” A Department spokesperson said the number of intern positions may increase in future years, but it is “unrealistic to expect the development of any internship programme that would provide intern positions for all medical graduates of Irish medical schools”. 

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