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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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UL the ‘preferred institution’ to deliver second vet school – working vet group

The ‘Working Group for Reform in Irish Veterinary Education “fully supports and endorses” the University of Limerick (UL) as the preferred institution to deliver the country’s second veterinary school.

The group, which has been advocating for the establishment of a second veterinary school in the state since November 2021, confirmed its position before a sitting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on Wednesday, May 24th, 2023.

Liam Moriarty MVB, Jimmy Quinn MVB, MSc, MRCVS and Ian Fleming MVB, MRCVS, made a submission to the committee on behalf of the group.

Its appearance follows the Higher Education Authority’s recent conclusion of its calls for expressions of interest from Higher Education institutions interested in building capacity in veterinary medicine.

The group is of the view that the University of Limerick (UL), one of the institutions that submitted a bid, ticks boxes on a lot of fronts, including its campus’ location “in one of Ireland’s agri-food heartlands”.

The group, in its opening statement, said: “The status of its existing faculties and its experience with comparable degree programmes – especially its School of Medicine – makes it the strongest option,” the group told the sitting.

“In addition, UL is a ‘research based’ university and holds the high world ranking necessary to attract competent teaching staff to facilitate accreditation requirements.”

The matter of accreditation is, the group outlined, paramount to ensure any new programme of veterinary medicine is fit-for-purpose, and meets the standards set out by these regulatory bodies.

“This is to provide veterinary graduates with a degree that is recognised internationally, and which would qualify them to work across the whole island of Ireland as well as pursue further training opportunities abroad if they choose.”

Curriculum, entry routes & availability

UL has planned a curriculum which is mapped to international competencies acceptable to the accreditation bodies of the Veterinary Council of Ireland and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the spokesperson added.

It is also compatible with the Shared Island Programme and “close to the heart” of the veterinary imperative for providing services across the whole island of Ireland.

UL will also aim to achieve the necessary accreditation standards for North America and Australasia, allowing graduates to continue training and practice across most of the world, the group’s opening statement added.

UL commits to providing for an initial minimum capacity of 60 students, which will increase to 120 over an agreed period.

According to the group, this will make an “immediate and significant” contribution to the “supply of talent” in the Irish veterinary sector.

UL currently has double the proportion of Irish medical graduates in GP versus the other national universities.

On foot of this, the group is “confident” the similar approach will result in higher numbers of veterinary graduates remaining in clinical practice, and, in particular, rural practices where they are badly required.

Moreover, the group outlined that UL is committed to promoting changes to the entry requirements for a new veterinary school and to a different education model, one that mirrors their very successful School of Medicine model, which is based on embedded experience in first opinion GP practices.

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