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North-east set for Scotland's first new vet school in 150 years

By David Porter

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The north-east could be home to a new school of veterinary medicine for the first time in more than 150 years.

The plans were announced today by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), which will offer courses in veterinary medicine ranging from Higher National Diploma to postgraduate degree level.

Based in Aberdeen but with a footprint across rural Scotland, it will be the first vet school based outside of Edinburgh or Glasgow.

SRUC, which has more animal and veterinary scientists than almost any other institution in Europe, has a national network of veterinary hubs and consulting offices, providing a solid basis for a distributed model of learning.

Already the biggest provider of veterinary nursing, livestock husbandry and animal care training in Scotland, SRUC will offer a core veterinary programme to address existing shortages in veterinary provision, in areas such as rural veterinary practice, food production, food safety and animal and public health.

The school will aim to widen participation using work-based teaching to align student recruitment and employability in shortage areas, which are essential to support Scotland’s highly prized rural and food sectors.

A working group will be established to progress the plans for the school.

The group will be chaired by Professor Sir Pete Downes, former Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee.

Sir Pete will be joined by Sheila Voas, chief veterinary officer for Scotland, former NFUS president Nigel Miller, SRUC Board member Jane Craigie, and Dr Kate Richards, who is a non-executive director on the SAC Commercial Board and currently the junior vice president of the RCVS, in line to become president in July.

Professor Caroline Argo, currently Dean of SRUC’s North Faculty, will lead the project for SRUC.

A report from BiGGAR Economics has found that the vet school could add £26 million GVA and 242 jobs to Scotland by 2030.

Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “We are an ambitious institution with a bold vision for the future.

"This is a ground-breaking model to expand access to educational opportunities and broaden the range of potential students who would not ordinarily be able to attend a vet school.

"It will also help solve existing skills shortages across Scotland.

“We see a key role of the new vet school in sustaining primary agriculture and hence food and drink productivity, with the welfare of both livestock and companion animals at its heart.

"The school will produce champions for best-in-class animal welfare in support of these industries, which will help improve productivity, effectiveness, and sustainability.”

“Building on the excellent new facilities we have already announced for Aberdeen and Inverness, there is a lot of work still to be done, but we are ready to seize the opportunity.”

Linda Prescott-Clements, Director of Education at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), said: “The RCVS looks forward to working with the team at SRUC as it moves towards meeting our accreditation standards, so that its future graduates can join the UK veterinary profession.”

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