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Debt and doubt for full fee students.



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Australian Medical Association Limited ABN 37 008 426 793

42 Macquarie Street, Barton ACT 2600: PO Box 6090, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 5400 Facsimile (02) 6270 5499 Website : http://www.ama.com.au/

DEBT AND DOUBT FOR FULL FEE STUDENTS

As year 12 students around the nation prepare to apply to university and chase their dreams of becoming doctors, AMA Vice-President, Dr Choong-Siew Yong, warned that some may be saddled with enormous debt and left holding degrees with questionable value.

Hundreds of full fee-paying medical student places are on offer at public and private universities, but Dr Yong said it’s highly likely that once these students graduate there will be no clinical training available for them.

“If medical graduates are unable to secure an intern place and complete an intern year, they won’t be able to fulfil Medical Board requirements to gain full registration and therefore they will not be able to become doctors,” Dr Yong said.

“With full fee degrees going for the price of a house mortgage - up to $200,000 a pop - the eager young high school students of today will in a few years find themselves to be debt-ridden twenty-somethings holding degrees that don’t guarantee them a rewarding medical career.

“It’s easy at 17 or 18 years of age to get carried away by the idea of pursuing a dream at any cost, but we’re urging students and their parents to think very long and hard before signing up for such a huge financial burden with no certainty of becoming a doctor at the end.”

COAG last week recognised the AMA’s call to ensure that medical students have access to adequate clinical training, with the States and Territories promising to fund clinical placements and intern places for all Commonwealth-funded students.

But COAG excluded full fee-paying students from this policy, potentially leaving up to 20 per cent of future medical students uncertain about whether they’ll have a career in medicine.

“Medical student numbers are about to leap higher, and the only students to be assured an internship at the end of their degree are those who have access to HECS,” Dr Yong said.

“There’s no such security for full fee-paying students.

“The Commonwealth has two choices - either it abandons its commitment to full fee-paying places, or it ensures the States and Territories fund clinical places and intern jobs for all medical students.”

25 July 2006

CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761 Kylie Walker 02 6270 5471 / 0405 229 152