Allow Pharmacy Students to be paid for placement

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In 2014, the Minister for Health at that time, Leo Varadkar, signed a Statutory Instrument changing the structure of the Pharmacy degree in Ireland. The old course consisted of a four year undergraduate programme followed by a twelve month internship, paid at the discretion of the employer.

The new course, introduced in 2015, is a five year integrated masters programme under one of three Pharmacy Schools in Ireland - UCC, TCD and RCSI. As a result, pharmacy students must now complete a four month placement in year 4 and an eight month placement in year 5- both unpaid. Under the new rules, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) insist students receive no wages, irrespective of the employers wishes. In addition to this, the fifth year fee has increased significantly from €3,000 for all colleges, to €7,500 in UCC, €8,500 in TCD and €9,000 in RCSI.  

As a result, each pharmacy student is looking at an approximate deficit of €25,000 over the course of their degree. The previous course structure allowed for pharmacy students to be paid by an employer for their internship year but students are now faced with no form of income and an increased fifth year fee. Some students are having to work up to 7 days every week to support themselves financially and to be able to attend placement. This has caused a significant strain on students and families both financially and mentally​.

One third of pharmacy students are currently in receipt of the SUSI grant. It is unclear whether the fifth year will be covered by this, potentially leaving students in receipt of the grant to foot large fees. The Higher Education Authority has refused to fund the fifth year of the pharmacy programme leaving colleges to foot the bill who have inevitably passed this onto students.

It is paramount to act now, to remove the blanket ban on payments to students to prevent Pharmacy becoming an elitist degree. To this end, students from UCC, TCD and RCSI are calling on the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland to remove the blanket ban immediately.

The Pharmacy students of Ireland have come together under the banner of the Irish Pharmaceutical Students Association (IPSA) to ensure we are heard on this issue. We are working with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to amplify our voices and to make sure that decision-makers cannot ignore us.

We are appealing to both Pharmacists and the wider public to support this petition and allow pharmacy students receive a fair day's wage for a fair day's work.

(Pharmacists please enter your MPSI number and surname in the surname field)