I'm a final year science student (zoology in TCD), who's considering doing a GEM course. I'm not sure whether I should stay here though, or do it in the UK. How are existing and past students of GEM courses here and abroad finding the finance? The loans here are a little bit terrifying, and I don't like the idea of asking my parents to sign as guarantors when I'm concerned that I'll struggle with repayments when I qualify. I'm also concerned that the available loan options don't seem to cover the entire cost of the GEM course in RCSI.
If you live near a university in Ireland then financially it is far better to do GEM in that university than abroad and have to then worry about living costs, rent etc.
UK GEM is a bit of a non-starter if you intend to come home to work. You won't get an intern spot if you're educated outside of Ireland and their intern (Foundation) programme dates don't align with the start of our training scheme dates which makes it very difficult to transition back to Ireland
Realistically, I don't think I can commute no matter where I do it. I'm commuting from Athy at the moment for my current degree, and it's hellish. I want to work here, but everything I find makes that harder and harder. The loans seem to be crippling graduates, and I've read threads from a year or two ago about people who haven't been earning enough to make the repayments. I know a lot can change in a few years, but I don't like the thought of taking out a really big loan in the hopes of the situation changing by the time I graduate. I'd really like to know how recent graduates are finding it, and how current students are managing seeing as the banks won't give you anything for maintenance anymore.
Making repayments really isn't a big issue like you think. It certainly isn't a concern for people in my year nor from the GEM interns I'm friends with. You may be reading posts by people who took out the 100,000 loan which certainly would be a significant burden and many have found difficulty repaying, but banks only give tuition loans now which are more than manageable.
If living costs are a concern, then you should consider taking a year or two out after graduation and saving to pay for accommodation etc.
Ah that makes sense. I have relatives in Dublin who might be willing to put me up during term time, but that restricts me to UCD and RCSI. UCD is a twenty minute cycle from my gran's house, and it's a twenty-five minute walk to the LUAS to get into the city centre, so both are very doable transport wise.
Do you mind if I ask where you're doing it?
In UCD myself!
How are you finding it? Is a science degree a decent preparation for it? Science in TCD is very broad, and I've actually done the same biochem as the first year med students here (same lecturers and everything), and zoology here involves a lot of cell biology (we share modules in comparative physiology and developmental biology (basically embryology but in a purely research based context) with the physiology and neuroscience classes). I also did chemistry for two years, so I think it's safe to say my knowledge on the subject would exceed that of someone who'd dropped it after the LC.