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Irish medical students mainly wealthy, living in Dublin and female

by April 20, 2017 General

The modern day Irish medical student is likely to come from a wealthier socio-economic background, be young and female and live in Dublin, according to a detailed new statistical breakdown that will perhaps not prove too surprising.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) Medicine fact sheet, published on Friday, offers key insights into where the future of Irish healthcare is sourced from, but equally raises question marks over how available the career path is to a broad section of society.

“There is a challenge to the higher education system and to the medical profession to do more to attract greater diversity into medicine,” the HEA said.

New students

The study looked at all new students, from Ireland and abroad, at NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Limerick and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland during 2015 and 2016. It also surveyed graduates nine months after they left college.

It found 14 per cent of new entrants to medical courses obtained Susi grants (Student Universal Support Ireland) in 2015 and 2016. The level of new students rose from 621 in 2011/12, before peaking in 2013/14 at 915, and dipping slightly again to 821 in 2015/16.

In that last year, 92 per cent of entrants were 23 years old and younger, while 58 per cent were female.

Of Irish students, the greatest proportion hailed from Dublin (31 per cent), with Cork (15 per cent) and Galway (6 per cent) following.

Between the 2011/12 and 2015/16 periods, there was a 17 per cent rise in the number of undergraduate medical students and a 12 per cent rise in postgraduates. More women than men went on to post graduate studies (62 per cent compared to 38 per cent).


After college, just 1 per cent of 2015 graduates were seeking employment up to nine months later. Of the rest, the majority (81 per cent) had found jobs, with almost two-thirds based in Ireland. Another 17 per cent were in training or pursuing further study.

The most common jobs were doctors and medical interns which accounted for 78.2 per cent of graduate pursuits.

The majority of those in employment were initially earning between €25,000 and €45,000; 11 per cent were earning more than that, while 5 per cent were earning less. The study found that 94 per cent of Irish medical graduates remained in Ireland compared with 41 per cent of those from other countries who studied here.

Non-Irish college entrants made up 46 per cent of the total in 2015/16. They came primarily from Malaysia (37 per cent), followed by Canada (14 per cent), Singapore (12 per cent) and the UK (9 per cent, excluding Northern Ireland).