Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are we wasting 3rd level resources on women?

The introduction of the Health Professional Admissions Test (HPat), to be used in conjunction with the points score from the Leaving Cert in determining admission to University Medicine courses, has resulted in an approx. 50:50 mix of male and female successful candidates. This contrasts with a typical 60:40 skew in favour of females under the old points-only system.

This outcome has been attacked by female commentators, in particular former FG Education Minster Gemma Hussey who argues that the points system is the fairest way of allocating the most sought after 3rd level places.

Even if that is true, is it actually the best way to allocate them?

It is a fact that, in general, girls perform better than boys in the points race, while men, in general, perform better than women in the rat race. This would suggest that the current allocation of valuable and expensive 3rd-level resources may not be delivering the optimum return on investment, i.e. longer-term economic benefit to the country.

From a strategic point of view, the country might well benefit from skewing the allocation of 3rd-level places in favour of boys, reversing the current position. I think 60:40 would be a reasonable and balanced outcome.

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