Republic could get second vet school before NI gets first

Republic could get second vet school before NI gets first

The Republic’s government has moved a step closer to building a second veterinary school, a move that could see the proposed facility overtake the much delayed plans for a first such school in Northern Ireland.

Educational institutions that want to expand or create new veterinary medicine courses in the Republic could do so by the 2024-25 or 2025-26 academic years, complementing the long-established veterinary degree course established in 1946 at University College Dublin.

Ensuring a supply of qualified vets to meet the demands of the sector is a priority for my department,” Ireland’s higher education minister, Simon Harris, said last month as he invited expressions of interest with deadline for submissions passing on November 18.

A group of veterinary practitioners, the Veterinary Work Group, last month called for a second school in Munster, where students will be provided better education on farm animals.

At present a number of  veterinary students from the North and South study away from home as there are not enough places available on the course in UCD.

At present there are 260 students from the Republic in Poland, with others in Hungary and Slovakia.

Veterinary Working Group representative James Quinn said: “We are hoping that a new school with different methods of student selection and a different method of education, more similar to the new colleges in the UK, will produce graduates that will be more likely to take up farm-animal practice jobs.

“We are all aware of how hard it is to find people to work in large-animal practice, [so] we decided something needed to be done [as] the existing education system is failing to produce the number of graduates that are needed every year,”

In March last year year  it was announced that case for building a first veterinary school in NI was being looked at, yet almost 20 months later the results of that study have yet to be made public.

It is understood the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs  is still is in discussions with Queen’s University and Ulster University over the proposed school.