“In fairness to UCD, it does not set out the number of points it wants for veterinary medicine. Rather, the market does. In other words, it is the demand,” Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), has reiterated.
Demand for 82 places in UCD is 7:1 or 8:1, while CAO points are “always, therefore, going to be used as a differentiator”.
That is what he told a recent sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine on Wednesday, May 10th, 2023, which met to discuss the widely reported call for a new school of veterinary medicine in Ireland.
The HEA (state agency with responsibility for the governance and regulation of higher education institutions and the higher education system) spokesperson outlined that UCD’s requirements for veterinary is not 600 points, contrary to some beliefs.
Study vet med at UCD
Instead, the country’s only provider of veterinary medicine education requires an H5 in Chemistry and an 06/H7 in English, Irish, Maths, a third language and one other recognised subject for Leaving Certificate applicants.
Moreover, there is a practical work experience requirement component, whereby undergraduate students applying through the CAO must demonstrate that they have acquired at least 30 hours of practical experience relevant to animal handling before a required date.
Dr Wall told the meeting: “They are not at 600 points. The 600 points are how they differentiate between applicants.”
“That is always difficult for us. It is, as was said, the system we live with. However, there are ways – UCD has started down this road – of using the points added to graduates from other like or key areas, such as agriculture, but also portfolios, which is another way in.”
“I have seen some in the press talk about interviews and that maybe the farmers’ sons and daughters should have a special provision.”
“The difficulty with that in a system like ours that is so small is that if you start to allocate scarce places on the basis of what parents did, it becomes really problematic across a number of areas,” he added.
Dr Wall went on to say that the points system is “one we all struggle with, but it is good in some ways”.
However, he acknowledged that there are alternative methods, and UCD has “led on that” with the aforementioned portfolio requirement.
UCD’s veterinary medicine course is five years in duration, with 82 places available annually and a CAO point range of 601 to 625 points in 2022, according to its website.