Scotland’s first new vet school for more than 150 years could provide the country with an economic boost, a new report has claimed.
A study by Biggar Economics found the establishment of a vet school at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in Aberdeen could add £28.3 million gross value added to the economy by 2030-31 – as well as create some 238 jobs.
The report was released as Professor Wayne Powell, principal of the SRUC, spoke about its “ground-breaking model” to allow more people to study veterinary medicine, helping to tackle skills shortages in the profession.
The college has announced plans to offer courses in veterinary medicine ranging from Higher National Diploma to postgraduate degree level.
It will also be the first time there has been a vet school in Scotland based outside Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The SRUC is already the biggest training provider for veterinary nursing, livestock husbandry and animal care in Scotland, and it has more animal and veterinary scientists than almost any other institution in Europe.
A working group is being set up to progress plans for the new vet school, led by Professor Sir Pete Downes, the former principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Dundee.
He will be joined by Sheila Voas, the chief veterinary officer for Scotland, former National Farmers Union Scotland president Nigel Miller, Professor Caroline Argo, who is currently dean of SRUC’s north faculty, and others.
Prof Powell 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.”
He said the vet school would build on the “excellent new facilities” SRUC has already announced for its sites in Aberdeen and Inverness, adding: “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.”