MEP Maria Walsh is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to “stop dragging his heels” on the decision for a new veterinary school in the West of Ireland.
The Midlands-North-West representative stated: “The West of Ireland is the perfect location to deliver this new Veterinary Medicine programme. It would be an ideal complement to the current offerings in Veterinary Nursing and Agriculture in the Donegal campus, and the Agriculture provision in the Mountbellew campus in Galway. It’s time for the Minister to put his cards on the table and deliver this announcement,” said MEP Walsh.
“These additional college places are desperately needed. At the moment, UCD is the only university offering veterinary medicine in this country, with 80-85 places available annually. In 2022, 80 graduates from UCD registered with the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI ), with the remaining 222 graduating from accredited schools abroad. Most recent figures from the VCI indicate that there are a little over 3,300 veterinarians registered in Ireland, but shockingly, 75% of those registered were educated abroad. Moreover, there are approximately 500 Irish students studying veterinary medicine overseas right now.
“A new Veterinary School in the West of Ireland would greatly benefit farming communities and rural development all across the region. It is worth noting that the 2020 CSO figures found that the West is home to approximately 31,000 farms – my own included – and many of these farms would directly benefit from vets in training.
“The expansion proposals, which also include additional places in UCD, are aimed at delivering graduates to meet needs in the economy, and to deliver better services across rural Ireland. We need a decision now, so that plans can be put in place for 2024 and students are made fully aware of the opportunities and choices available to them with ATU in the West,” added MEP Walsh.