Massey University will spend $75 million upgrading and expanding New Zealand's only veterinary school, increasing its capacity to train vets by 180 students.
The investment will ensure Massey remains at the forefront of international veterinary scientific research and teaching and helps meet the growing demand for qualified veterinarians, University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says.
"Veterinary, animal and biomedical sciences are central to what we do as a university and central to the sectors in which New Zealand is world leader," Mr Maharey says. "We want the quality of the facilities our students study in and our staff work in to match the quality of the qualifications we deliver."
The project will be funded over nine years from the annual capital expenditure budget. It will be a significant enhancement to the Manawatu campus – and boost to the local construction sector – on top of the $57 million project that started this year to relocate College of Education staff from the Hokowhitu site to Turitea and to restore and seismically strengthen heritage buildings. Both projects will significantly enhance the working and learning environment for staff and students.
Project leader and head of the Institute of Veterinary Animal and Biomedical Sciences Professor Frazer Allan says the project creates space for projected growth in numbers of postgraduate and undergraduate students.
It includes expanding the vet tower to the north and extensive redevelopment of the veterinary hospital, pathology facilities and teaching and research spaces while at the same time retaining teaching, research and clinical service functionality.
It will increase the capacity of the course from 100 students per year to 140. Providing the Government agrees to fund the additional domestic students, about 20 would be from New Zealand and 20 international.
“Our staff have been keen for this upgrade for some time and are really excited about the opportunities it offers,” Professor Allan says. "Each year we have a high standard of applications from many more people than we have space for. We also expect there to be a growing shortage of vets in New Zealand over the next 20 years."
The veterinary science programme is accredited with the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council, which means Massey vets can work in most countries throughout the world.
“Through modelling work we have undertaken and through conversations with the profession, it is apparent that if we value New Zealand-trained veterinarians in this country, we will need to train more in the future. We also have world-recognised areas of research in infectious diseases, animal science, animal health and welfare, pathobiology, public health and epidemiology."
Veterinary Council chairman Ron Gibson welcomed the investment, saying an increase in a capacity to train vets would be fully supported.