New veterinary school proposed by Harper Adams and Keele

Keele University and Harper Adams University have revealed that they are in exploratory talks to establish a new veterinary school. 

The new school would provide five-year degrees leading to a Bachelor of Veterinary Sciences (BVSc) qualification, and training would be delivered on both university campuses in partnership with local clinical providers and industry.

Accreditation would be sought from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, enabling graduates to register and practise as vets upon the award of their degree.

As well as being a new provider in the region the school will reach out to those who, traditionally, may not have considered a career as a vet.  

Professor Jonathan Wastling, pro vice-chancellor and executive dean of natural sciences at Keele University, said: “The new Veterinary School will draw upon expertise in Life Sciences and our highly regarded Medical School as well as Harper Adams’ long-established record in delivering programmes in the veterinary field, agriculture and animal sciences. State-of-the-art laboratories available on the Keele campus will be complemented by world-class large and small animal facilities provided by Harper Adams, offering the perfect environment for veterinary students. Our intention is to produce highly-employable graduates able to deal with the challenging and rapidly changing landscape of the modern veterinary profession.”

Professor Peter Mills, deputy vice-chancellor at Harper Adams University, added: “This initiative will complement our core subjects in agriculture, not least in the care and treatment of agricultural livestock. The proposed joint Veterinary School will be of considerable benefit to our agri-food provision. It will enable our agricultural students and trainee veterinarians to have greater awareness of the issues facing both professions. It will also open up new avenues for livestock research, advanced veterinary training and knowledge exchange, ultimately to the benefit of the farming sector.”

Further discussions and detailed business planning will be undertaken over the coming months, with a view to a further announcement later in the year, outlining when the new School would expect to receive its first cohort of students.

The announcement was deemed “interesting” by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Gudrun Ravetz. “This is a very interesting development at a time when there are many questions around the sustainability of the UK veterinary workforce as the UK prepares to leave the EU and at a time when many practices and businesses are reporting significant problems in recruiting.

“Striking the right balance between producing ‘home grown’ graduates from UK veterinary schools and bringing in appropriately qualified and skilled foreign graduates will be key to maintaining a flexible, skilled and sustainable workforce.”

Ravetz warned that the addition of any new veterinary schools would have to be considered carefully.

“However, there are a number of very important factors that will need to be considered, including whether we have enough capacity in the UK to deliver quality EMS placements, and how it might impact on the availability of veterinary teaching staff, particularly given that 25% of current veterinary academics are from non-UK EU countries.

“An increase in UK vet school places also needs to be considered in the context of the Vet Futures project and the Vet Futures actions currently underway, including the RCVS-led Graduate Outcomes project and the BVA-led workforce study. We must ensure that we can provide fulfilling career opportunities for our graduates in a wide range of veterinary roles – both clinical and non-clinical – as well as meeting the needs of society now and in the future.”

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