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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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ATU, UCD, UL & SETU welcome proposals to expand vet course offerings in Ireland

Bodies have welcomed proposals for the expansion of places on UCD’s veterinary medicine programme and the establishment of vet schools at UL, SETU and ATU.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, made the announcement yesterday, which you can read via this link.                                                                                

The Higher Education Authority was tasked by the Department of Further and Higher Education to establish how additional capacity may be provided in veterinary medicine, among other disciplines.

The report has found that with investment, an additional 230 vets could potentially be trained annually.

The government agreed to advance the proposals with investment to be considered in Budget 2024 and the National Development Plan review.


Under current proposals, Ireland’s only current veterinary medicine school, UCD, has been allocated an additional 50 places.

Accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI), the School’s MVB degree programme is one of only seven in Europe fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The education and training of world-class medical and veterinary professionals is “a core mission” of the School of Medicine and the School of Veterinary Medicine, respectively, and partnerships with government, other universities and national and international professional accreditation bodies are central to achieving this.

Professor Michael Keane, Dean & Head of the UCD School of Medicine, commented:

“Our graduates have reached leadership positions worldwide.”

“We are proud of our reputation: shaped and built over the last 168 years, as a worldwide leader in the provision of excellence in education and research.”


Meanwhile, South East Technological University (SETU) president, Prof Veronica Campbell, warmly welcomed the news saying that this is a  “real vote of confidence” in its newly established university and in its ambitions for the future.

The veterinary medicine application builds on SETU’s strengths in science and land sciences together with a 50-year history of collaborative provision with Teagasc, Kildalton Agricultural College.

Prof Campbell continued, “Veterinary medicine and pharmacy are prestigious courses in high demand and will attract some of the brightest and best students from the southeast, from across the country and from around the world.”

“One of the important next stages is to link in with the appropriate regulatory authorities, and we very much look forward to working with both the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and the Veterinary Council of Ireland.”


Meanwhile, the president of Atlantic Technological University (ATU), Dr Orla Flynn, has welcomed the potential for a new programme of veterinary medicine to be delivered from ATU Donegal in conjunction with ATU Mountbellew.

Dr Orla Flynn said: “I am naturally delighted with today’s news – it is a strong signal of confidence in ATU’s capability and capacity to deliver these programmes.”

“Our ability to respond to this call as one university has led to this success – we now need to make sure that we deliver on this potential for our region.”

“I also want to salute our teams across ATU who have worked on these bids, their efforts have been rewarded today.”

Dr Edna Curley, principal, of Mountbellew Agricultural College, says: “To be able to support the agricultural community in this way would mean so much to us, given the support we have received from the agricultural sector over the years.

“We look forward to working with our ATU colleagues to develop potential further programmes suited to the region,” she concluded.


Meanwhile, the government allocation is for 90 places for veterinary medicine at UL, with at least 10% of student places to be reserved for students from Northern Ireland.

UL seeks to deliver an all-Ireland internationally accredited undergraduate degree programme in veterinary medicine of a five-year duration leading to a Level 8 Veterinary Medicine and Surgery degree (BVetMS).

There is also an allocation for additional places in existing programmes in medicine and nursing at UL.

The university will provide a ‘hybrid distributed’ model of veterinary clinical education through a network of elite veterinary practices, regional placement hubs, and the development of a contemporary teaching hospital in Limerick so that students will be exposed to an appropriate balance of first opinion and specialist referral cases.

UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said: “We believe the development of a veterinary medicine school will do much to build the resilience and sustainability of the wider mid-west region.”

UL Provost and Deputy President Professor Shane Kilcommins said UL’s Veterinary School will be based in purpose-built and refurbished facilities, with specialist anatomy-pathology and clinical-skills facilities.

Its veterinary hospital will be a public-private partnership arrangement with local practices in which UL provides facilities, specialist equipment and clinical input, enabling through co-investment 24-hour year-round access to clinical cases in small animal, farm animal and equine.

Further details will be announced in due course as the process develops.

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