Written Answers. - Third Level Places.

Ceist:

175 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide for extra places in the pharmacy degree course at Trinity College, Dublin, in view of the demand for places; the plans, if any, he has for the provision of pharmacy courses at other third level colleges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10369/00]

Following the publication in November last year of the report Assessing Supply in Relation to Prospective Demand for Pharmacists in Ireland by the Higher Education Authority, the authority wrote to third-level institutions and other interested parties seeking their views on the report's recommendations.

I understand that the authority is now considering the views received.

Ceist:

176 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide additional places on the speech therapy degree programme at Trinity College, Dublin, in view of the shortage of speech therapists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10370/00]

Ceist:

177 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide additional places on the occupational therapy degree programme at Trinity College, Dublin, in view of the shortage of occupational therapists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10371/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 177 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, an expert group was established by the Minister for Health and Children in accordance with Labour Court Recommendation 15515 to address,inter alia, the education and training of certain paramedic grades, including speech therapists and occupational therapists. The group commenced hearings in May 1998 and I understand that the group is expected to report very shortly.

The question of providing additional facilities for the education and training of speech therapists will be considered in the light of the report of the expert group.