VCI and its UK counterpart to sign ‘historic’ agreement

The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) will sign a ‘mutual recognition agreement’ (MRA) with its counterpart in the UK, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), that will see both bodies recognise each other’s accredited degrees.

The agreement, formally announced today, Wednesday, October 9, was officially given approval when the governing body of the RCVS agreed to the deal at its meeting on Thursday, October 3.

The agreement had been agreed to by the VCI on September 25.

The agreement is being described as the “first of its kind” that has been signed bilaterally between the UK and another country in the European Economic Area (EEA).

The deal will allow the veterinary degree from University College Dublin (UCD) to be recognised by the RCVS, while eight UK veterinary degrees will be recognised by the VCI.

Currently, EEA citizens have an automatic right to work in the UK through an EU directive that allows member states to recognise each other’s professional qualifications.

The agreement means that, regardless of how the UK leaves the EU, veterinary graduates from UCD will still be able to continue working, or find work, in the UK.

UCD veterinary graduates will be able to join the RCVS, while UK veterinary graduates – from the accredited degrees – will have the right to join the VCI.

“I am delighted to see the continued close alignment the profession enjoys across both nations. This close alignment transcends any borders and many decades of mutual cooperation and recognition,” said Peadar Ó Scanaill, president of VCI.

“The veterinary profession in Great Britain and throughout the island of Ireland has moved step-by-step and shoulder-to-shoulder in unison over the years and recent political events will not sever that important bond. Cooperation and mutual recognition are the key components of our future together,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Niall Connell, president of the RCVS, called the agreement “a vital element of future-proofing to ensure that, whatever the future relationship with the EU, Dublin graduates are able to be recognised as holding a registerable qualification by us as the UK regulator”.

I hope, in particular, this provides some reassurance to the community in Northern Ireland, as many of its veterinary surgeons are trained in Dublin.

The MRA will allow representatives from the VCI and the RCVS to make accreditation visits to veterinary schools in the other country to ensure the degrees are meeting the relevant criteria.

The agreement is expected to be formally signed later this month.