The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is seeking expressions of interest from higher education colleges about creating more spaces for veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing.

The move follows a campaign led by a group of concerned vets in the south of the country around the lack of Irish-qualified vets graduating on an annual basis.

University College Dublin is the only Irish university where students can currently study veterinary medicine, and with only 85 course places available each year, it means competition is hot.

Travel abroad

In 2022, 581 students had veterinary medicine as their first choice on their CAO form. This means many Irish students travel abroad to pursue their studies.

There are currently 70 Irish students in their first year of veterinary medicine in Poland, with a further 30 in Hungary. It is understood that the University of Limerick and University College Cork have both already expressed an interest in providing the extra places.

It is expected that the new school could be up and running by September 2024.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Jimmy Quinn MRCVS, who was part of the campaign said: “We’re delighted with the news and we would like to thank both the Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue for listening to our concerns and acting fast on them. We would hope that this means a Munster Veterinary College could be in place by 2023.”