Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris has said that he is going to look at reducing the number of spaces for international students studying veterinary in Ireland in order to increase capacity for Irish students.
This, he said, is a short-term measure and something that can be done quickly to increase the supply opportunities for Irish students, many of whom are finding themselves having to go to eastern Europe.
"We did it with medicine this year and I'd like to have a conversation with UCD. It is up to them wanting to have that conversation, but we're very up for having that. It makes sense in the short term."
Currently, Minister Harris said that the vet school will be located in either SETU and Kildalton, in Univeristy of Limerick or ATU between Donegal Campus and Mountbellew and a decision will be made before the end of the year.
The lead-in time will depend on which college is chosen, he said.
"In relation to the timeline, I'd love to see this in place for September 2024 and I won't be found wanting in relation to that.
"It will of course depend on which project or projects get selected and the lead-in time - some can be delivered quicker than others.
"The next milestone is by the end of the year which project we're proceeding."
However, Minister Harris added that he will be "working intensively" with the Department of Agriculture to make a decision on this later this year.
"We're working really hard to expand the number of veterinary places. I think it is utterly unacceptable that we live in a country where so many young people have to go abroad every year to study veterinary medicine.
"At the same time, farmers tell me on a regular basis that they have difficulty accessing vets, particularly vets for large animals," he said.