Test for medical school entry

Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 01:00

Sir, – I read with interest the article by Seán Flynn about medical school entry (Front Page, June 1st).

I was a member of the Irish Universities and Medical Schools Consortium, representing TCD, UCD, UCC and UCG, which met the “expert group” appointed by the then government. The new exam for entry to medical school was opposed by all medical schools and university heads on the basis that the Health Professions Admission Test (Hpat) would be an added financial and emotional strain on potential entrants and would not widen the social base because of access to “coaching”. The group informed us that the then minister, Mary Hanafin, had decided to introduce the exam irrespective of the views of the universities or medical schools.

The facts that this new exam has not changed access to medical schools and that one can be coached for the Hpat come as no surprise.

Finally it should be made clear that the number of medical students in public medical schools in Ireland is strictly controlled by the Higher Education Authority and not by the profession or medical schools. – Yours, etc,

Prof SHAUN R McCANN,

Clanbrassil Terrace,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – It is quite amazing that Ruairí Quinn remains silent on the on the HPat medical entry exam. This test was introduced to open up access to medicine and to move away from the idea of “the perfect” Leaving Cert (600 points). In reality the HPat is ensuring that access to medicine is the preserve of those who can afford to pay.

Parents of students who wished to sit the HPat exam in 2012 were faced with substantial financial burdens, as it is a proven fact that students who are tutored for the test perform better. An online medical entry practice programme costs in the region of €500; one-day seminars at the grind schools, including a mock exam cost €200-€300; registration to sit the test €95; and purchase of past test booklets (recommended and sold by Acer, which oversees the HPat) €50. An analysis of test results would indicate that the most successful students were those who could afford some or all of the above. Where does this leave students of parents who can not afford this outlay? – Yours, etc,

ANN BRADY,

Moyville,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.