3 June 2021

Two veterinary educations in Denmark from 2025!?

According to the government’s political plan for relocation of Higher Educations, 2 veterinary educations will exist in Denmark from 2025: the existing one here at University of Copenhagen (UCPH-VetSchool) and a new one at the Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture, Foulum, Aarhus University (DCA AU Foulum). As far as we know at present, the government wish to establish the new veterinary education at DCA AU Foulum with 90 study places and to reduce the present study capacity at the UCPH-VetSchool from 180 to 155. Overall, resulting in a future increase of veterinary candidates in Denmark to 245. 

An increased number of veterinary student places will no doubt be welcomed by the numerous young people who wish to obtain a veterinary degree. This year, 590 Quota 2 applicants had the veterinary education at UCPH as their first priority. Veterinary students come from all over Denmark, though we know that students from Sønderjylland and Nordjylland are slightly underrepresented among applicants, compared to other regions of Denmark. A new veterinary education placed at DCA AU Foulum certainly have the potential to level out this slight imbalance in demographic recruitment. But will it also strengthen the veterinary field in Denmark? 

Two conditions must be fulfilled, if the overall existing high level of veterinary education and research in Denmark shall be maintained:

  1. the initiative must be fully financed.
  2. Aarhus and Copenhagen Universities must engage in further purposeful educational and scientific teamwork within veterinary sciences on top of the fruitful collaboration within animal production sciences and genetics that already exists. 

The veterinary education is generally acknowledged to be one of the most expensive educations to run. A veterinary education requires establishment and maintenance of research based clinical training within companion animals, equines and production animals. The clinical training is accomplished at veterinary hospitals for companion animals, equines and productions animals in combination with extra-mural training of students at production farms in collaboration with private veterinary practices. At the UCPH-VetSchool, and before that at The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University (KVL), the costs of the clinical education at the university run hospitals and at our collaborating production farms and slaughterhouses at Sjælland and in Jylland are far from covered by the government grants for higher education (student FTEs/taximeter subsidies ). Basic research grants as well as extra funding from the university are needed to maintain high-level research-based clinical teaching at hospitals and at the collaborating establishments. This is needed to ensure that students are able to build up their clinical Day 1 competences defined by EAEVE / ESEVT and needed within both companion animal clinics and equine and production animal practices. This will also be at DCA AU Foulum, if they are to succeed with the establishment of a first-class veterinary research-based education. 

The VetSchool at UCPH is presently ranked as no. 4 at the Shanghai Ranking list, and as no. 7 at the QS World University Ranking list. In addition, the education is accredited by the European System for Evaluation of Veterinary Educations (EAEVE / ESEVT), which ensure that our education and the associated curriculum, facilities, personnel etc complies with the required EU legislation. It also guaranties that our graduates can obtain veterinary licenses in other EU-countries. A new education at DCA AU Foulum must also be established with the aim of European Accreditation by EAEVE / ESEVT, if the Government wish to keep the present international standard of Danish Veterinary Educations. Teaching within the veterinary subjects as defined by the EU Directive on the recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2013/55/EU) must be research-based, the professional training within veterinary clinical sciences must comprise all common domestic species and must include Food Safety, Veterinary Public Health and One-Health concepts. 

The planned reduction in student intake by 25 per year will force changes to the veterinary curriculum, if the VetSchool will not be compensated financially. It is also likely that some research areas will be profoundly affected. The UCPH-VetSchool and the Health Faculty had already prior to the Government’s announcement, started a process, where we with the help from several experts are aiming to draw some overall future scenarios that we can orient ourselves towards when we further develop the veterinary environment at UCPH over the next 10-20 years. We will of course continue working with scenario planning, now including the governmental initiative. More than ever, we need to strengthen our shared knowledge and understanding of the global and local trends that will shape the demands of the veterinarians and veterinary research communities of the future. We expect that the knowledge and insight we gain from this process can help to qualify a possible forthcoming decision to establish an additional veterinary education. Finally, if the Government’s announcement is carried out as planned, we hope to be able to share our insight with Aarhus University and use it to create a future collaboration with a new veterinary and animal science environment at DCA AU Foulum to the benefit of the Danish veterinary field. 

On behalf of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science

Peter Holm
Head of Veterinary Studies, Director of the UCPH-VetSchool