Tuesday, 20 November 2001
Dáil Eireann Debate
495. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to provide extra third level places for the education and training of students of physiotherapy; if he will establish a new course or courses in physiotherapy; if so, the locations at which the course will be based, and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28961/01]
496. Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to provide extra third level places for students wishing to become occupational therapists; if he will establish a new course or courses in occupational therapy; if so, the location the course will be based at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28962/01]
The Department of Health and Children commissioned a report from Dr. Peter Bacon and Associates on current and future supply and demand conditions in the labour market for physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists. The report was launched in July 2001 and it concluded that a major expansion in the numbers of therapy professionals was essential over the next fifteen years. In relation to training places, the report recommends an annual increase of 75 training places for both speech and language therapy and occupational therapy and an additional 25 training places in physiotherapy. These increases are in addition to the extra number of places provided by the colleges from the last academic year in response to the request of the Higher Education Authority to expand provision in the light of perceived shortages.
An inter-agency working group has been established comprising representatives of my Department, the Department of Health and Children and the Higher Education Authority to pursue the issues arising from the report. The Higher Education Authority has invited institutions to submit proposals for the expansion of existing courses and-or the introduction of new courses, including graduate entry programmes for the three disciplines. A meeting of the inter-agency working group is being convened to consider the response to the authority's invitation.
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