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Report recommends that HPAT system be included in review

The HPAT test must be completed by Leaving Certificate students hoping to study medicine.

AN INTERIM REPORT from the five Irish medical schools on the HPAT (Health Professionals Admissions Test) recommends that the HPAT system be included in a review on the admissions process being carried out by the Irish Universities Association.

The HPAT is the test which must be completed by Leaving Certificate students hoping to study medicine.

The news has been welcomed by Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

She said:

I am taking today’s report from the deans of the medical schools as a clear recognition that the HPAT system needs to be changed. It has highlighted the problem whereby students who fail to score high in the HPAT are taking up a college course, repeating the HPAT and then dropping out of their original course when they manage to score higher. This is creating a vacant place in second year which can’t be filled, denying other students a chance to get into a course.

She also said she is encouraged by the words of Professor Bill Powderly “who acknowledges that limiting the sitting of the HPAT to one year only may reduce some of the problem, and he says he believes that rather than tweaking the HPAT,  we should consider university entry overall so that tackling one issue doesn’t create problems elsewhere”.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor aired her concerns about the HPAT to the Minister for Education in the Dáil this week.

She said that rather than delivering on its objective to open up medical courses to a wider range of students, the HPAT “has instead become a revenue generator for expensive coaching courses”.

Eighty-five per cent of those who repeat the HPAT secured a higher score on their second attempt. So instead of broadening the type of doctors we produce, we are potentially further restricting the profession to the elite.

The Deputy said that she believes an urgent decision needs to be made on the future of HPAT, adding that she thinks it will be important to phase out the system.

Scrapping it in just one year would be very unfair to those preparing to sit their Leaving Certificate in 2013. However, there is no doubt that the current system is not achieving its core objective.

Read: Survey: Majority of medical students plan to leave Ireland after internships>

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