South East Technological University (SETU) recently hosted a stakeholder meeting, providing a crucial platform for veterinary practices to actively engage and collaborate on the ongoing development of the University’s proposed veterinary programme. 

Drawing veterinary practices from across the south east and beyond, the gathering saw a vibrant exchange of perspectives and ideas between participants, aimed at shaping the future of veterinary education at SETU. 

SETU’s proposals to introduce new programmes in veterinary medicine and pharmacy were included in the capacity-building strategies announced by the Government in 2022. SETU’s application builds on strengths in science and land sciences together with 50 years of collaboration with Teagasc, Kildalton Agricultural College. 

This meeting followed Veterinary Ireland’s visit to Teagasc Kildalton Agricultural College earlier in the year, signalling SETU’s readiness to deliver a degree in veterinary medicine. 

Opening the veterinary medicine stakeholder meeting, President of SETU, Professor Veronica Campbell, warmly welcomed the attendees. Prof. Campbell outlined how the University’s strategic plan will see SETU perform at the forefront of higher education and research and how it aligns with the sector’s evolving needs.

“I was delighted to welcome veterinary practitioners from the region and beyond to SETU for this stakeholders meeting.” Prof. Campbell remarked, “The realisation of the veterinary medicine programme is strategically aligned with the vision for the only university in the south east of Ireland.”

Professor Peter McLoughlin, Head of the School of Science and Computing, presented ongoing research initiatives in Land Sciences education at SETU and their relevance to veterinary medicine.

Given SETU’s strengths in science and land science, Prof. McLoughlin said, “SETU is committed to developing a veterinary medicine programme based on the sector’s needs. Our stakeholder event was an important opportunity to listen to the vets from across Ireland to ensure their voice is reflected in our programme design.”

Tim Ashmore, Principal of Teagasc Kildalton, elaborated on the collaborative partnership between SETU and Kildalton. Highlighting the suitability of Kildalton’s facilities, he explained that livestock enterprises and practical training facilities provide an excellent platform to deliver much of the large animal components of the veterinary course. 

Meanwhile, Eleanor Kent, Head of the Department of Land Sciences, provided insights into industry engagement with stakeholders and the value of collaboration in addressing sector-specific challenges. Group Development Manager with Dawn Meats, Paul Nolan emphasised SETU’s importance as a regional university and stressed the necessity of a pipeline of veterinary surgeons within the south east.

Dr Siobhan Walsh, Lecturer in Agricultural Science, and Dr Mary-Kate Burke, Veterinary Medicine Programme Development Lead, delved into the development of the proposed veterinary programme, with Dr Burke outlining its distributed model of clinical education and opportunities for practitioners to get involved.

Reflecting on the evening’s discussions, Dr Burke was pleased with the collaboration between SETU and local, regional, and national veterinary practices. “We are delighted with the interactive and informative discussion regarding the involvement of veterinary practices within the distributed model of veterinary education.” Dr Burke affirmed, “We hope to continue this collaboration and engagement as we continue to develop the proposed veterinary programme.”