The Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) has welcomed the proposal that a veterinary school could soon be established in Northern Ireland (NI).

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) announced last week that options for an increased veterinary supply locally, including the introduction of a third-level education option, would be considered in an analysis involving both QUB and Ulster University.

Currently, there is no option for students to study veterinary science at degree level in NI.

The analysis will be taken forward by DAERA in partnership with the strategic investment board, under the joint oversight of DAERA’s chief veterinary officer and senior representatives from Queen’s and Ulster universities.

An announcement on the best potential outcome is expected by the end of the year.

Pressing need

IGFS director Professor Nigel Scollan said the possibility of training a work force in veterinary medicine and surgery is a major advance for animal health and welfare, and the agri-food sector in NI.

"The need for a veterinary school in Northern Ireland is evident and pressing and the strategic timing is very appropriate.

“There is considerable relevant expertise already based within Queen's, AFBI, Ulster University, CAFRE, DAERA and within the commercial animal-health sector to deliver a veterinary curriculum and contribute to wider health and life sciences.

"As well as providing skilled professionals, a veterinary school would deliver research and innovation activities that would drive economic growth and attract inward investment."