With less than two months to go before students sit their first Leaving Certificate exam, a number will have earmarked a Polish college to study veterinary medicine in.

This is largely due to the fact that just 45 Irish students get the opportunity to stay in Ireland to study veterinary in the country’s one vet school, but also because of the high points required to get in.

On average, less than 10% of Leaving Certificate students who put veterinary medicine in UCD down as their first choice will be provided with a place.

In 2023, 477 students put the course down as their first choice on their CAO, while in 2022, 581 students had UCD down as their first preference.

The points to get into the course fell marginally from 601 to 589 points in 2023.

In order to study in Poland, however, more emphasis is placed on an entrance exam rather than the points received in the Leaving Certificate. In fact, it is just biology and chemistry results which are examined in close detail – a pass in other subjects is all that’s required.

Last year, a total of 90 first year students from Ireland enrolled in Polish vet schools in order to pursue a career in veterinary.

Last week, we wrote that six of these students went to Olzstyn in Poland, a vet school which is in its first year of teaching veterinary through English.

Warsaw and Wroclaw are the other two Polish cities where Irish students go to become vets and accounted for the majority of first year students last year.


While traditionally, Warsaw attracts the largest number of Irish students every year, numbers in Wroclaw are building.

Last October, 30 first year students from Ireland started in Wroclaw, one of whom is Áine Kealy from Co Laois.

Áine hails from a dairy farm outside Borris-in-Ossory and joins the community of 91 Irish students studying veterinary in the south west city of Wroclaw.

The veterinary medicine building at Warsaw University of Life Sciences. \ Rachel Donovan.

“I always knew that studying veterinary in Ireland was going to be out of my reach so before I had even thought about going abroad I tried talking myself out of wanting to do veterinary altogether, which didn’t last long before it was back in my head.

“I also didn’t do chemistry for my Leaving Cert so I really thought I couldn’t do veterinary, but it was only after I got my results in September 2022 that I knew for definite that it was veterinary medicine I wanted to do,” she said.

Áine took the year out after sitting her Leaving Certificate and studied chemistry for the year with a past teacher who had recently retired from her school. “It was a very challenging few months and I never thought I’d see the end of the road with it but I was so determined to get to where I wanted to be and that’s where I am now.

“I applied to Wroclaw through Medical Poland and they told me all about Wroclaw, the university, the admission process and helped with the preparation for the interview,” Áine told the Irish Farmers Journal.

The interview lasted 10 minutes and Áine was asked questions in biology and chemistry but also asked why she wanted to do veterinary.

Within two hours, Áine, was notified that she would be accepted onto the course which started in October.


“Growing up on a farm definitely influenced my decision on studying veterinary. We had sheep for a while which I absolutely loved and then we got into dairy in 2021. As much as it’s hard work I love the cows, especially calving. Before we got into dairy ourselves I spent a good bit of time over in my cousins milking cows.

“I suppose seeing the vet coming out to the farm or to the horses was always something I looked forward to. I loved watching what they had to do or say so that was definitely a major influence too. I’ve ridden horses since I was around seven as well, so I’ve always been around some sort of animal,” she said.

Irish system

Commenting on the current system in Ireland, she said that in order to get into the course in UCD, too much focus is placed on academics.

“I definitely don’t think it’s very fair. There are only a small amount of places for a course that’s in such demand.

“As well as the points required to get into UCD, I just don’t think it’s fair. Of course you need to be good academically but it really shouldn’t just be focused on that aspect,” she said.