Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences head Professor Frazer Allan

Massey celebrates 50 years of veterinary education

This year, Massey University celebrates 50 years of world-class veterinary education at its Manawatu campus.

In 1963, a veterinary school was established at the then Massey College and today it remains the only veterinary school in New Zealand. It has grown from an initial intake of 32 students (21 graduated five years later as the first home-grown vets) to over 500 enrolled veterinary students today.

The majority of vets working in New Zealand graduated from Massey and many more alumni have taken their skills and training abroad enhancing Massey’s reputation across the globe. Massey’s veterinary programme enjoys an international reputation for the high quality of research and teaching and is one of only a handful of veterinary degrees outside the United States of America to be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences head Professor Frazer Allan says it is an exciting time of change for the profession. For instance, he says technological advances have lead to a leap in the ability of vets to capture data on farm.

“Through their training, veterinarians have the skills to be able to convert that data into information that is useful for improving animal health and productivity in a cost effective manner. This will become increasingly important in the future as external pressures, such as compliance costs and farm input costs rise”.  

Professor Allan says well-trained veterinary technicians, working closely with veterinarians, will become a regular fixture in the rural scene. “Technicians, operating under veterinary instructions, can undertake many activities on farm freeing up time for the veterinarian to investigate animal health issues and establish animal health programmes. With this in mind, the institute started a three-year Bachelor of Veterinary Technology degree in 2008. This has proven to be highly successful.”

Each year since the 1940s a new human disease has emerged, or an old one re-emerged. Three-quarters of these are of animal origin and the impact of humans on our natural ecosystems plays a significant role in the occurrence of new and emerging diseases.

“Massey has particular strength in this field of work and is at the forefront of infectious disease research and training and has used this to develop a Master of Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Public Health which is delivered by distance predominantly to veterinarians and doctors from Asian countries” Professor Allan says. “These programmes, supported from a grant administered by the World Bank, have improved the knowledge of healthcare professionals tasked with controlling important diseases, such as rabies, in developing countries. Massey continues to offer support to these countries as they develop their disease control programmes.”

The institute is also responding to the changing attitudes of companion animal owners. “Once upon a time, the family dog lived in kennel in the back of the yard,” he says. “Nowadays, the family dog sleeps in the house or even on the bed. Pet owners are more demanding of high quality veterinary services. In order to meet this demand, an increasing number of veterinarians are specialising by undertaking additional training and passing tough exams.”

The highlights of this year’s celebrations are a one-day symposium and gala dinner at the Manawatū campus on Friday. More information can be found here.



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