August 2014

Examining the Complexities of the Student Admission Process

Fri, 29 August 14 14:24

There continues to be a very high demand for all of the programmes offered by UCD SMMS with the number of applicants exceeding the number of available places by factors of between 15 – 25 times.  Unfortunately, this means that there are many exceptionally strong students who will not receive their first preference programme.

Medicine

Although there has been a small fall in the number of applications to direct entry (school leaver) Medicine in recent years, the number of applicants still greatly exceeds the number of available places across all Irish medical schools.  There continues to be general concern about the intensity of this competition for places and a recognition that academic excellence alone may not guarantee that we will produce the best doctors.

A number of steps were introduced in 2009 in an attempt to reduce pursuit of superlative Leaving Certificate performance and take the heat out of the ‘points race’. 

  • LC points above 550 were moderated such that each additional 5 points counted for only an additional 1 point. 
  • The Health Professionals Admission Test (HPAT) was introduced and selection is based on the HPAT combined with the LC score (1:2).  The HPAT exam is intended to be an admission test not a measure of one’s aptitude for a career in medicine.
  • Students were required to present LC scores from a single sitting. This change significantly reduced the incidence of students presenting matriculation requirements in one year and repeating the LC to secure maximum points. 

This year, the HPAT test was further refined when concern was raised about the incidence of students repeating this test and undertaking HPAT grinds.  The HPAT test comprises three sections -1) non-verbal reasoning 2) logical reasoning/problem solving and 3) interpersonal understanding.  The weighting of these three components was changed to reduce the significance of the non-verbal reasoning score.  Also, the student is required to present a HPAT score from the year of admission.

As a result of these changes, it has been reported that there has been a ‘massive drop in the points for medicine’ across all Medical Schools this year.  While this is true, the cut-off point remain well above 2009 levels and as it reflects a change in weighting rather than in student performance, it has no significance for the competitiveness of programme admission. 

Students who were unsuccessful in 2013 despite strong scores might mistakenly think that they would have been assured a place in 2014. It is important to remember that year-on-year comparisons are unhelpful as the purpose of the HPAT test is to allow differentiation of students within a single cohort. 

It is also unwise to make comparisons between Medical Schools based on cut off points as these arise as a consequence of supply v demand.  Our advice to students is that entry to medicine remains very competitive across Ireland and that we strive to make sure it is fair, equitable and transparent.

Final Round CAO Cut Off Points for Admission to Medicine Direct Entry Programme

University

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

(Round 0)

UCD

719  

725  

735  

745*

747  

733*

TCD

723  

731*

739*

746*

748*

733*

RCSI

715*

721  

732  

740*

741*

727   

UCC

715  

725*

733*

738*

742  

724  

NUIG

712*

719  

728*

736*

739  

721*

* Not all students with this points total were offered places.

Graduate Entry

We introduced our graduate entry medicine programme in 2008 to broaden access routes to the medicine profession. UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science was the first Irish medical school to introduce Graduate Entry Medicine with a pilot intake in 2006.  Graduate Entry Medicine programmes are now available among four of the six Irish Medical Schools (UCD, UCC, RCSI and UL).

Our programme has proven to be very popular with over 600 Irish/EU applicants each year for the 77 available places.  Among applicants, 46% have UCD as their first preference and 92% have our GEM programme as one of their top 3 choices.

Although the number of places has expanded across all medical schools (as planned arising from the Fottrell Report), the points cut off (GAMSAT) remains high as the number of applicants greatly exceeds the number of available places.

Final Round CAO Cut Off Points for Admission to Graduate Entry Medicine Programme

University

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014 (Round 0)

UCD

 

57*

60*

60*

58*

57  

57*

57*

RCSI

60*

58  

60*

62*

59*

59  

57*

56*

UCC

 

56*

59  

59*

56  

55*

54  

55*

UL

59*

55*

56*

56*

54*

53  

53  

53*

  

Once again the same general advice applies with respect to programme competitiveness and it is important to remember that any differences between medical school cut-off points simply reflect the circumstances of supply and demand.

Radiography

Our Diagnostic Imaging group offers the only undergraduate-level radiography training in Ireland through the BSc in Radiography programme.  Interest in the radiography programme has remained strong over many years with over 750 applications for the 40 available places.  The number of these applicants who place UCD Radiography as their CAO first preference has increased substantially over recent years to 25%. 

Final Round CAO Cut Off Points for Admission to Radiography Programme

University

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014 (Round 0)

UCD

500

525

515*

525

535

555*

530*

550

   

Biomedical, Health & Life Science

Despite the fall and rise in popularity of science programmes generally across the country, our BHLS programme has continued to attract strong interest since its introduction in 2006.  This specialist science degree has been sustained with approximately 750 Irish/EU applications for the 40 available places.  Approximately 10% of these applicants list the degree as their CAO first preference.  Not surprisingly, the majority of applicants list other health sciences programmes among their preferences with medicine (25%), science (17%) and engineering (10%) the most popular other choices.

 Final Round CAO Cut Off Points for Admission to Biomedical, Health & Life Science Programme

University

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014 (Round 0)

UCD BHLS

535*

475

495

505

520

555

560

560

UCD Science

305  

300

385

435

455

500

505

515