Thursday, 16 November 2023
Department of Education and Skills
Further and Higher Education
258. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the current status of negotiations with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform with regard to progressing a new veterinary school, located at UL, to service the needs of the mid-west, both urban and rural; if there will be an indication in the imminent review of the National Development Plan and statement of strategy of his Department as to a timetable and road map for a new vet school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50346/23]
Ensuring a supply of qualified vets to meet the demands of Ireland's agri-food sector is an important issue for my Department.
As you are aware, a number of institutions put forward proposals following the recent HEA Expression of Interest process outlining options for the expansion of existing veterinary medicine provision.
There is a substantial capital cost associated with the provision of any new school in veterinary. It is important that the scale of the costs is fully understood and planned for and the options identified have the potential to transform the numbers of students who can take up places in these programmes. This would represent a significant investment of public funding in our higher education institutions.
Detailed discussions are continuing to take place about the ways and means to address capital costs for the provision of any new school, including in the context of an expected upcoming review of Departmental National Development Plan allocations.
Given the nature of the discussions and the significant costs associated with expansion and the provision of any new schools, it will naturally take some time for these discussions to reach a conclusion.
I am continuing to work with the Ministers for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform on the next steps