The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called for Scotland to provide “adequate long-term funding” for its veterinary education courses.

President of the BVA, Malcolm Morley, said Scotland has “long been at the forefront of veterinary education”, but that the “impressive work” of its vet schools need government support to remain sustainable.

Scotland has long been at the forefront of veterinary education and is home to two of the oldest veterinary schools in the UK,” he said.

“The exciting development of SRUC’s School of Veterinary Medicine is timely, offering a new model and aiming to increase access to the profession and encourage graduates to stay in rural areas once qualified — complementing the impressive work already underway in Scotland’s existing vet schools.

“However, more than ever, it’s crucial that the Scottish Funding Council provides the necessary financial support.

“The reality is that current funding per Scottish vet student doesn’t meet the cost of providing this education — and while the vet schools have been increasingly resourceful in implementing innovative models, the future of veterinary education in Scotland sits on a precipice if sustainable long-term funding is not assured.”

Morley also said the Scottish government should invest in people and infrastructure of public sector veterinary services.

Veterinary Surgeons Act

Morley also called for the Scottish government to join the BVA in lobbying the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for urgent legislative reform of the “outdated” Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Morley said the act “doesn’t recognise these important roles or enable us to embrace the full potential of the wider veterinary team”.

On the agricultural transition in Scotland, Morley said veterinary engagement will be key to its successful development and that it must support animal health and welfare and sustainability.

“The new agricultural policy offers the opportunity to harness the unique and trusted relationship which exists between vets and farmers, empowering collaboration to drive positive outcomes on all levels,” he said.

“Central to this is developing sustainable agricultural practices that minimise environmental impact and prioritise animal health and welfare.

“To enable this, we must ensure there is veterinary engagement and representation on key bodies such as the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board, AREOB, and safeguard animal health and welfare as a central component of agricultural transition — alongside our custodianship of the land.”