New Head of Wales’ first School of Veterinary Sciences speaks of ‘nation’s golden opportunity’

Professor Darrell Abernethy

Professor Darrell Abernethy

17 June 2020

The new head of Wales’ first School of Veterinary Science has said the development is a golden opportunity for the nation’s next generation.

The new School of Veterinary Sciences in Aberystwyth University was launched earlier this year and in September 2021 will welcome its first students to a degree it is offering jointly with the Royal Veterinary College. 

Professor Darrell Abernethy has been appointed as the new head and chair of the School. He joins Aberystwyth from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Speaking about his new role, Professor Abernethy said: “I feel privileged to lead such an initiative and deliver on the vision to create Wales’ first School of Veterinary Science.  This is a golden opportunity to have a positive impact on Welsh society for generations to come. For the first time, we can train veterinary practitioners, who are so important to life in rural Wales, here in their home nation. Also, there will be veterinary teaching through the medium of Welsh, which is also a long-awaited and very important development.”

“A huge amount work has already been completed by university personnel, and their commitment – at all levels - to the project is impressive. The widespread support the School has received from industry, government and the profession is exciting and heartening as well. As one who is passionate about veterinary education, meeting local needs and making a difference is central to my mission here in Aberystwyth.”

The new School will offer a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) degree jointly with the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), one of the leading veterinary schools in the world. The five-year degree will see students spend their first two years at Aberystwyth University followed by three years study based at the RVC’s Hawkshead Campus in Hertfordshire.

The programme will cover the full range of animals, from domestic pets to farm animals.

The development will also provide opportunities for students to study specific areas of veterinary science through the medium of Welsh while at Aberystwyth.

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University added: “I’m delighted that Professor Abernethy, with all his expertise, has joined us to lead this important and exciting new chapter in the history of Aberystwyth University and Wales. Agriculture and its related industries play such an important part in the Welsh economy and it is incumbent on us as universities to provide the people and the skills that will contribute to ensuring they thrive for years to come. The new School of Veterinary Science adds a vitally important new piece to the jigsaw, one that will build resilience in the rural economy through education and research at a time of great challenges.”

The Aberystwyth School of Veterinary Science will form part of the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences and will benefit from the new Veterinary Education Centre which is being developed on the Penglais campus.

The new Centre represents an investment of £1m, funded partly by alumni donations, and will be ready to welcome the first students in September 2021.

The new School builds on over 100 years of animal health teaching and research at Aberystwyth University, and more recently, the successful introduction of a BSc Veterinary Biosciences degree in September 2015.

As well as the new Veterinary Education Centre, students will also study in the excellent existing laboratory facilities enjoyed by IBERS students and gain valuable experience on the University’s dairy and sheep farms, and at the Lluest Equine Centre.