Dáil Éireann - Volume 482 - 12 November, 1997

Written Answers. - Student Nurses' Fees.

294. Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will exempt nursing students, who have completed their diploma in nursing studies and are undertaking a nursing degree, from paying fees. [18843/97]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): I presume the Deputy is referring to the proposed one-year full-time degree course for student nurses participating in the first general nursing registration-diploma programme which commenced in 1994 at University Hospital Galway in association with University College Galway.

[1268] Successful completion by the students of the three-year registration-diploma programme leads to registration as general nurses with An Bord Altranais, at which point they will become eligible for employment. As a degree in nursing is not a requirement for registration as a nurse and subsequent employment, the particular one-year degree course proposed by University College Galway would essentially be an additional course leading to an optional post-registration qualification. Students wishing to undertake the degree course would, therefore, have to meet the costs involved themselves.

I might mention that the specific programme which the students entered in 1994 is currently the subject of an independent external evaluation being undertaken by a team from the School of Education and Nursing, University of Southampton, under the management of the Institute of Public Administration. In addition, the interim report of the Commission on Nursing has identified a number of issues relating to the registration-diploma programme generally, which the Commission is expected to address in its final report. I do not propose to make any changes in the present arrangements for pre-registration nursing education and training pending the completion of these two important exercises.