A picture of UL President Professor Kerstin Mey outside Plassey House
University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey has welcomed confirmation from government that a proposal to establish a new veterinary medicine school at UL will proceed to the next stage
Wednesday, 21 June 2023

University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey has welcomed confirmation from government that a proposal to establish a new veterinary medicine school at UL will proceed to the next stage.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD today announced options to expand third level places for healthcare and veterinary medicine.

Following a call by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) seeking expressions of interest in building capacity across several areas – including veterinary medicine – and confirmation of a successful application at this stage by the Ministers today, UL is seeking to deliver an all-Ireland internationally accredited undergraduate degree programme in veterinary medicine of five-years duration leading to a Level 8 Veterinary Medicine and Surgery degree (BVetMS).

UL’s proposal has been deemed viable by the HEA and will now proceed to the next stage, with a business case to be assessed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The government allocation is for 90 places for veterinary medicine at UL, with at least 10% of student places to be reserved for students from Northern Ireland.

There is also an allocation for additional places in existing programmes in medicine and nursing at UL.

UL President Professor Kerstin Mey said: “This is a key project for University of Limerick, and we believe the development of a veterinary medicine school will do much to build the resilience and sustainability of the wider Mid-West region.

“The bid was an excellent one and is vital both for the future development of UL in a key area of industry for society but also in the development of a ‘One Health’ agenda for both animals and humans, given the continuing strength of our School of Medicine, the addition of which was transformative for our university and was the first medical school established since the formation of the Irish State.

“The veterinary curriculum will be developed in association with an International Academic Advisory Group, and we already have successful relationships with partners with animal facilities including Clonshire Equestrian, and Salesian Agricultural College.

“UL will provide a ‘hybrid distributed’ model of veterinary clinical education through a network of elite veterinary practices, regional placement hubs, and the development of a contemporary teaching hospital in Limerick so that students will be exposed to an appropriate balance of first opinion and specialist referral cases. The network will be supported by embedded academic clinicians and clinical tutors, ensuring continuity of experience and quality,” Professor Mey added.

The curriculum of the programme will be mapped to international competences with accrediting bodies, positioning UL as a leading international veterinary educator, and maintaining and enhancing the current educational reputation of Ireland’s veterinary graduates.

UL Provost and Deputy President Professor Shane Kilcommins said: “UL’s Veterinary School will be based in purpose-built and refurbished facilities, with specialist anatomy-pathology and clinical-skills facilities. Our veterinary hospital will be a public-private partnership arrangement with local practices in which UL provides facilities, specialist equipment and clinical input enabling through co-investment 24-hour year-round access to clinical cases in small animal, farm animal and equine.

“The UL veterinary programme will be broad-based and research-led, also providing a strong foundation for careers in research, education, regulation, and pharmaceutical industries,” Professor Kilcommins added.

Professor Sean Arkins, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, who is a vet himself, also welcomed the announcement.

“This is a very significant and welcome announcement for UL and for the wider veterinary industry in the Mid-West region and beyond.

“UL has always been an innovator in education and is uniquely positioned to address the current issues in veterinary education with a novel student recruitment emphasis and an innovative delivery model which will provide a broad-based, research-led accredited programme to students from the island of Ireland.

“This opportunity is an acknowledgment of our commitment to excellence in education, innovation, and the advancement of animal welfare. Together with valued regional partners, such as the Veterinary Working Group, I am confident that this new school will become a hub of knowledge and care, helping to shape future generations who will make a difference in the lives of animals, their owners, and their communities.

“I am very proud to witness this milestone moment in the history of veterinary education in Ireland and our University’s remarkable progress.”

The development of the new veterinary medicine school will take place in partnership with the HEA and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and will form part of UL’s new capital development plan.

Further details will be announced in due course as the process develops.