Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI Granted Degree-Awarding Status by Minister for Education and Skills

20 October 2010

A moment in time......Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO / Registrar & Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, hold the letter received from An Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, T.D., which confirms she has approved the bye-law and RCSI has been granted independent “Degree Awarding Status”


The RCSI was established under royal charter in 1784 and has been a recognised college of the National University of Ireland (NUI) since 1978. In 2003, the Oireachtas passed a Private Act (the RCSI (Charters Amendment) Act, 2003) amending the RCSI charters to enable it to award degrees in certain disciplines. In accordance with the Act, RCSI submitted bye-laws for approval to the then Minister for Education and Skills seeking to have its statutory degree-awarding powers commenced. In February 2010 the NQAI, together with the HEA, was requested by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) to conduct a review of the RCSI, to advise the Minister on the matter. In March 2010 the terms of reference for the review were agreed.

Review process

The HEA and the NQAI secured a panel of very experienced individuals, based nationally and internationally, to form an external review panel to conduct the review of the RCSI. Collectively the panel had the capacity to contribute their expertise from the medical, quality assurance, operations and management, regulatory and student perspectives. The site visit for the review took place from 19-21 May 2010. During this time, the external panel considered the RCSI’s self-evaluation report; reviewed the outcomes from a public consultation regarding the RCSI’s request to be granted degree-awarding powers; and undertook discussions with approximately 25 groups of internal and external stakeholders.

The report of the external panel recommended that degree-awarding status should be awarded to the RCSI. The full report, which incorporates a series of commendations and recommendations, and includes details of the panel members and of the site visit schedule is available here: External Review Panel Report

In its response to the external panel report, the RCSI acknowledges all of the recommendations made by the panel and states the College’s commitment to addressing these recommendations in preparation for a second review by the end of 2012. The College’s response to the external panel report is available here: RCSI Response to External Panel Report

Review outcome

The external panel report and the RCSI’s response to the report’s recommendations were submitted to the Authorities of the HEA and the NQAI as evidence upon which to form the advice requested by the Minister for Education and Skills regarding the granting of degree-awarding powers to the RCSI. On 04 October 2010 a joint letter was issued to the Minister for Education and Skills stating that, in the opinion of both Authorities, the Minister should approve the bye-laws submitted by the RCSI granting the College statutory degree-awarding powers. The Authorities also supported the External Panel’s recommendation that a further review of the RCSI should take place no later than 2012 to establish the College’s level of implementation of the recommendations set out in the external panel report.

On 12 October 2010 the Minister for Education and Skills issued formal notification of her decision to grant degree-awarding powers to the RCSI.