Sep 9, 2020

No Space for Extra Freshers, Say Trinity Schools of Medicine and Dentistry

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris today said that the government would be introducing 800 extra college spaces this year.

Emma Donohoe Deputy News Editor
Sinéad Baker for The University Times

Trinity’s Schools of Medicine and Dentistry have said they will not be offering extra places for incoming freshers this year.

Last week, the government announced 1250 additional CAO places for “high demand” courses such as medicine, law, and engineering. Higher Education Minister Simon Harris today announced a further 800 places, following the announcement of the highest leaving certificate results in history on Monday.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday, Harris stressed that despite the additional places, many students will not get their first CAO choice, as happens every year. Harris said that the government has given third-level institutions “flexibility to identify what are the high demand courses and to make more places available there”.


For those applying to Trinity however, the Schools of Medicine and Dentistry will not be offering these additional places.

In an email statement to The University Times, Head of Trinity’s School of Medicine Michael Gill, cited multiple obstacles to offering additional undergraduate medicine places.

“We were approached by the Senior Lecturer about the potential for extra places in Medicine this year. However, with severe limitations on clinical placements, chronic underfunding of undergraduate medicine, restricted numbers of Intern placements, requirements on quality expected from our regulating authority (the Irish Medical Council), and the impact of COVID-19, we responded to say that unfortunately, we were unable to increase numbers this year”, Gill said.

Similarly, Trinity’s School of Dentistry was also approached regarding expanding the incoming freshers cohort, but will not provide any extra CAO places for this academic year.

Dean of Dental Science at Trinity Brian O’Connell, said in an email statement to The University Times, that such increases in places would impact negatively on students.

“Due to the tight physical space constraints on providing dental education, and now the further limitations due to COVID, we are not able to safely increase our intake of dental students beyond our current capacity”, O’Connell said.

“Any increase beyond the capacity of our clinical facility would have an immediate negative effect on student education and experience, which would serve no one”.

This year’s Leaving Certificate students received their CAO points based on a new calculated grades system which saw major increases in grades across the board. Prospective college students are awaiting first round CAO offers that will be released this Friday.

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