Harper and Keele Vet School reception at Westminster

Lord Sandy Trees hosted an evening reception at the House of Lords for the new joint vet school between Harper Adams and Keele University this week.

The event was attended by around 130 members of the veterinary profession, representatives from other UK Vet Schools, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and members of both Houses of Parliament.

Lord Trees, a professor of veterinary parasitology and a crossbench member of the House of Lords praised the joint venture for such aspiring plans to help shape the future of veterinary education in the UK.

The new veterinary school will provide a five-year programme leading to a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery, with training to be delivered on both university campuses in partnership with local clinical providers and industry partners.

Those invited to speak at the House of Lords event also include Lord John Gardiner of Kimble, Professor Peter Mills, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Harper Adams University, and Professor Jonathan Wastling, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at Keele University.

During his speech Lord Trees, former president of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and former Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences at Liverpool University, said: “It’s a great pleasure to host this event and to introduce the ninth veterinary school in the UK, a joint venture between Harper Adams and Keele. It’s a very timely project because in the UK there’s been a huge expansion of demand for veterinary surgeons in the last 30-40 years, and supply from our own UK schools hasn’t been able to keep up with demand.

“Strengthening veterinary research capability is also extremely important in the UK, given the national and international challenges that face humankind and which have a veterinary dimension - including food security, biodiversity threats, pet travel and many other challenges, so this new initiative from Harper and Keele is very welcome and timely.

“Congratulations to Harper and Keele for this bold initiative and ambition, I wish them well for the future.”

Professor Wastling said: “I would like to thank everyone who attended the evening including
members of the veterinary academia and industry community and to all our supporters. We have considered how the veterinary community will respond to a new provider of veterinary education, and I’m glad to say that colleagues from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to those at established vet schools have been very supportive and welcoming.

“Both Keele and Harper would like to thank all colleagues who have helped and supported the development of this project over the last two years, and we extend our deepest thanks to Lord Trees for hosting the event, who provides tremendous support to the veterinary community in his role in the House of Lords.”

Professor Mills said: “Our vision is to build on the strengths of the two universities. Harper has considerable experience as a provider of veterinary nursing and physiotherapy and extensive animal facilities, whilst Keele has a leading medical school - these are very strong synergies.

“The school will work in partnership with a large number of practices, and we’ve been absolutely delighted with the response we’ve had from the veterinary profession wanting to work with our vet school, and with the appointment of our new Head of School Dr Matthew Jones. The first beneficiaries of the vet school will be the students, giving them another choice in the UK, which will offer them something slightly different, including engagement with agri-tech, agriculture engineering and business studies. The local economy in the West Midlands will also benefit significantly from the school with an influx of 500 students and a substantial number of staff.”

At the event Lord Gardiner said: “We should be all very excited about the new School which will offer I’m sure excellent training opportunities for veterinary students, and aims to produce veterinary graduates who are ready for work, which I think is essential in a rapidly changing industry.

“As well as being a new provider the School will reach out to those who may not have traditionally considered a career as a vet, the school’s commitment to social mobility and dual location within the rural communities of Staffordshire and Shropshire makes it ideally placed to offer opportunities that are not currently available in the area, and I do think this is going to be a really significant opportunity for so many young people to be thinking of an education not far from home.”