I want to be a vet, but I’ll never get 600 points. Are there other options?

Veterinary medicine courses on offer in eastern Europe are more expensive, but accommodation is much cheaper

The 600 CAO points needed to secure a place in the UCD’s veterinary programme this year is beyond my reach. Our local vet, who I worked with during transition year, has encouraged me to apply to a wide range of colleges. He assures me there is plenty of work. Which courses outside Ireland taught through English have the best reputation?

If your heart is set on becoming a veterinary surgeon, you should not compromise, particularly as your local vet believes that you would make a good candidate.

Yes, securing one of the 82 places on offer in the only course in Ireland at UCD is very challenging and CAO entry points for the past two years stood at 601. (There are plan to expand veterinary course places in Ireland, but they may take a few years before they come on stream). In the meantime, don’t dismiss the possibility that you could achieve the points; they may fall back under 600 in 2023.

Remember: successful candidates must also acquire at least 30 hours practical experience relevant to animal handling between February 1st, 2020 and July 6th, 2023. For full details and to complete your records of experience, visit: www.ucd.ie/registry/admissions/vet


There are seven degree programmes currently accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association in Europe. These are: the University of London, Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Utrecht, and the Vet Agro Sup in France. You could consider an application to one of the UK colleges through UCAS.

A number of new vet programmes have been added in recent years in the UK such as Surrey, Nottingham, Aberystwyth in Wales, alongside the long-standing programmes. UK colleges tend to look for a H1 in both chemistry and biology, as well as either physics or higher level maths. Tuition fees are stg£9,250 (€10,795) per year.

Eastern European universities are another option. Dr Tim O’ Leary, (timolearyvet@gmail.com) a veterinary surgeon in Schull, Co Cork has been for many years co-ordinating the application process for Irish students seeking places in the vet college in Budapest.

He says there is strong demand, at both equine, farm and small animal practice levels, for graduates of EU programmes.

Entry requirements for Budapest are based on a short exam in biology and chemistry in May, plus a brief interview to determine suitability.

Guy Flouch, founder of Eunicas.ie website, has facilitated many Irish students to secure places in veterinary programmes in Polish universities, as well as in the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria.

Fees for these Eastern European programmes can vary from €8,000-12,000, depending on location. Compared to the registration charge of €2,500 at UCD, Eastern European programmes may seem expensive. However, accommodation costs can be secured for as little as €150-€200 per month.

My advice? Put in an application to the CAO and list UCD veterinary science as your first choice. You might get the CAO points. If not, the eastern European universities seem like a very good option.