Sectoral Overview

There are approximately 256,785  third level students in Ireland (HEI, 2023 statistics), of whom 32,000 are international students.
ISHA has around 200 members working in 3rd level student health centres across the country. The range of facilities and services offered varies between units. In some student health centres there is a full complement of medical, nursing and specialist staff, and in others, there are lone practitioners.

A vibrant exciting and rewarding sector with many Challenges

All who work in student health services in the 3rd level education sector in Ireland, embrace the opportunity of working with our multicultural student population.  It is both fulfilling and rewarding working with students and supporting them to fulfil their potential.
Student health service centres sit within or are connected to universities and institutes that are experiencing a massively changing landscape that is the 3rd level educational sector in Ireland.  Our Institutes of Technology have amalgamated to become Technological Universities. TU Dublin was established in January 2019 by joining together Dublin, Tallaght and Blanchardstown Institutes of Technology. This was followed by the formation of MTU - Munster Technological University (formerly Cork IT and IT Tralee) which was established in January 2021.  LIT (Limerick Institute of Technology) and AIT (Athlone institute of Technology) merged in October 2021 to form TUS (Technological University of the Shannon ). In April 2022 Galway-Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny IT’s merged to form ATU (Atlantic Technological University) for the west and northwest region. In May 2022, Institute of Technology Carlow and Waterford IT merged to form South East Technological University (SETU), and the establishment of a multi-campus university presence across the south-east region.

This will undoubtedly have a positive impact on these new universities’ abilities to offer a wider variety of courses and attract a larger and more diverse student population which will put further demands on the associated student health services centres. A major challenge for our health services sector is matching the complex needs of an increasingly diverse and growing student population with the limited resources currently available.

The third level health care sector faces increased demand for health care services in particular mental health care services. This involves an increasingly complex level of care and often multidisciplinary input. Our universities and colleges are increasingly becoming global institutions, and this adds an extra layer on complexity to consultations due to the cultural differences. This is on the background of providing everyday medical care for patients.

In addition to this, the student health units have been dealing with the demands of the Covid 19 pandemic which have increased the demand for consultations with some centres providing swabbing and vaccination services. Staff have also had to deal with rapidly shifting public health policies, while at the same time practicing telemedicine due to the need to protect themselves and their colleagues from the threat of infection.

ISHA endeavours to understand and support healthcare workers in this broad range of clinical settings and facilities with different needs.