Members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food, and the Marine have called for a new entry route to veterinary medicine through a background in agriculture. At a meeting of the committee, TDs and senators unanimously supported the expansion of current course offerings, including the establishment of a new vet school. In Ireland, Central Applications Office (CAO) points ranging from 601-625 are required for the 82 places offered by University College Dublin (UCD).
Speaking at the committee meeting on Wednesday, May 10, Senator Paul Daly pointed out that not everyone with high points would be the “ideal candidate” to become a vet. He suggested that someone with practical experience from an agricultural college or background may be better suited to the profession. While the Higher Education Authority (HEA) is open to broader entry requirements, it will be up to the individual colleges to decide whether a degree in agriculture will grant entry to veterinary medicine programs.
Dr. Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA, stated that the authority would support any third-level institution that decided to allow agriculture graduates to enter the second year of a veterinary medicine course. Deputy Cathal Crowe emphasized the need for a pathway for students with practical skills in large animal practice and a level 7 or 8 degree to enter veterinary medicine courses.
Keith Moynes at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science explained that the HEA’s recommendations had not yet been submitted to the government. He added that the allocation of capital in the budgetary process would be a key question going forward, and that decisions would not be made in advance of the budget.
Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Jackie Cahill expressed his satisfaction with the unanimous support for the establishment of a new vet school, stating that there had never been such unanimity in the committee room.