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‘Will CAO points for veterinary science drop in light of promised new college places?’

It is likely to be some time before we see a second veterinary faculty on the island of Ireland

I’m a teacher and find it deeply frustrating to see so many students from farming backgrounds who have cared for animals all their lives, who would make excellent veterinary surgeons, but will never secure the 590 CAO points required to get into UCD. Will points requirement drop on foot of promised new college places in this year?

As you are probably aware there are discussions ongoing regarding the establishment of a second veterinary faculty on the island of Ireland. These have been taking place for some time now and it is generally accepted that, if one is provided, it is likely to be in the southwest.

Given our recent history of major building projects, it may be some years before we see additional student graduates in this sector. CAO points, in that case, are unlikely to drop significantly any time soon.

The current vet faculty in UCD graduates about 130 students annually roughly on an 80/50 breakdown between Irish/EU and international students, many of them from the US. The capacity of that faculty to expand the number of places for domestic students would seem to be quite limited without significant capital investment.


Within the current cohort of students there is a very high ratio of female to male students. It may be down to academic achievement, or also the fact that the job is changing. There is an ever-expanding demand in both urban and rural areas for vets to service the small animal market. This is probably more attractive to many than servicing the needs of our agricultural and equine industry, which demands 24/7 cover, often in very physically demanding circumstances.

Given the importance of the agriculture and equine sectors to both the social and economic health of our society, it is vital that we provide a route for motivated students who aspire to continue working with animals in rural areas to progress to veterinary training.

Currently many of them are training in Budapest in Hungary through the good offices of Dr Tim O’Leary, a vet in Schull ( or across a range of other eastern European countries through the website. All these degrees are taught through English. CAO points are not relevant and the degrees are fully recognised in Ireland. European-trained vets are now the backbone of many rural practices in Ireland.

I would advise any students considering this European option to select both chemistry and biology as two of their optional Leaving Cert subjects.

A radical option for those considering the establishment of a new vet school in Ireland might be to devise a course that would be specifically designed to educate those aspiring to work with large animals.

Catering for a particular need within our overall community is not a unique concept in our third-level system. Perhaps we devise a specific veterinary programme to service the needs of our agricultural and equine industries?