THE possibility of a new school for veterinary medicine being based in Limerick is gaining traction following a call from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for expressions of interest in creating more places for student vets and veterinary nurses.
UCD is the only university with a course in veterinary medicine and offers only 90 places a year. This year, there were 581 CAO first preference applications for veterinary medicine and applicants needed a minimum of 601 points in the first round of offers.
It’s understood that the University of Limerick (UL) and University College Cork have already indicated an interest in responding to the HEA call for additional places.
A spokesman for UL told the Limerick Post that the HEA has put out a call seeking expressions of interest in building capacity across a number of areas.
“UL will be responding to that call and has been in informal discussions with relevant parties across a range of disciplines.
However, as the closing date is November 18, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time,” he added.
According to the Irish Independent, more aspiring Irish vets go abroad every year to study rather than stay at home. They are enrolled in programmes in 14 universities in Europe with 50 Irish first-year veterinary students in Warsaw and 20 or more in Wroclaw.
There are about 30 in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, and smaller numbers elsewhere, including Zagreb, Croatia and Slovakia.
There is an acknowledgment that while the medical University of Limerick considering call for veterinary collegeneeds of small pets are generally well catered for, there are not enough vets to provide services for large animals and a group of vets in Munster have been lobbying for a regional veterinary medicine school.
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has said that ensuring an appropriate supply of suitably qualified healthcare professionals and vets was a key priority.
He added there would be consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Veterinary Council on the matter of a new school of veterinary medicine.