Ireland

Government to boost number of medicine and veterinary college places

The investment and timing will depend on the budgetary process and the National Development Plan, ministers said (Brian Lawless/PA)
The investment and timing will depend on the budgetary process and the National Development Plan, ministers said (Brian Lawless/PA) The investment and timing will depend on the budgetary process and the National Development Plan, ministers said (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Government has agreed to give funding to third-level institutions to increase the number of medicine, dentistry and veterinary places.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said this could help the yearly “scramble” for college places, and give more options to students who feel they have to study abroad “not by choice”.

His department had asked the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to establish how additional capacity might be provided in healthcare and veterinary medicine college places in particular.

The review found that with investment, 750 medicine places could increase to 1,158; 2,000 nurses trained a year could increase to more than 3,000, more than 200 pharmacy places a year could go up to 400, and 60 trained doctors a year could increase to more than 123.

Mr Harris’s department will consider the proposals with the departments of health and agriculture, and assess the options outlined in the review.

The investment and timing will depend on the budgetary process and the National Development Plan, ministers said.

Speaking at Government Buildings, Mr Harris said that it could lead to “unprecedented change” in the number of graduates and help address workforce shortages.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said “the ultimate goal” is a doubling of healthcare college places across the board, and college places had increased last year and would increase this September.

College place numbers
College place numbers Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue at Government Buildings (Brian Lawless/PA)

“As of now we’ve got about 21,000 more people working in the health service than we did when Covid arrived here.

“What’s really encouraging in what the HEA have come back with and what the colleges have come back with – they’ve already said that they can double pharmacy places, that they can double dentistry places, and they’re proposing very, very significant increases in nursing and medicine as well.

“Already they’re proposing adding an extra 1,000 nursing places in the country, they’re talking about well over a 50% increase in medicine places as well.

“So this is really, really encouraging to see this.”