Call for veterinary school to be established in Northern Ireland
An Ulster Unionist MLA has called for the development of a veterinary school in Northern Ireland so students do not have to travel to the mainland or Europe to study.
Agriculture, Environment & Rural Development spokesperson Rosemary Barton has written to the Minister for Economy and the Minister of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Development to support and encourage the development of a facility.
Mrs Barton said: “Presently there is no opportunity for students to study veterinary practice in Northern Ireland and only limited places in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. This results in many students who wish to train in the veterinary profession going to mainland Europe for their studies.
“There is a great opportunity to develop this sector within Northern Ireland, obviously there is a greater chance of such students remaining to practice in Northern Ireland when they have completed their studies.”
Susan Cunningham, president of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association, said: “We are pleased that the idea of new vet school for Northern Ireland is being investigated. There is currently a shortfall of vets across the UK generally.
“In Northern Ireland all the students go away to study and then they stay away, so that local brain drain is an issue.”
MS Cunningham also pointed out a NI school would be beneficial to those students from an agricultural background, who may be needed to stay at home and work on the family farm.
“Our local universities and colleges already have a very strong reputation nationally and internationally for medicine and agriculture, there’s a wealth of expertise there that means running a veterinary course should be something that we consider.
“We would like to be training our own students and keeping them here, but obviously the business case will have to be made. The veterinary course is one of the most expensive university courses to run.”