The Prince of Wales, a former Aberystwyth University student, toured the new Veterinary Education Centre and spoke to some of the first cohort of students who began their studies in September this year.
A key part of Wales’ first and only School of Veterinary Science, the new Veterinary Education Centre represents an investment of more than £2 million in new teaching facilities on the University’s Penglais campus.
Featuring brand new anatomy and study facilities, the Centre was funded from alumni donations totalling £500,000 and the University’s own funds.
As part of the visit, The Prince signed the same visitors’ book that he signed back in 1969 while studying Welsh at Aberystwyth University.
After touring the new Veterinary Education Centre, he unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening of the School. The Prince reminisced about his time as an Aberystwyth student in 1969 and said: “I have very special memories of that time and finding my way around Aberystwyth generally.
“I’m so impressed having seen what the school has done here and am delighted to have had a very small part to play in helping to open it.”
He added: “I do hope [the students] will have great success in the future and the school will flourish.”
The royal visitor was welcomed by the Aberystwyth University’s Chancellor, Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, and Vice Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Treasure together with the Royal Veterinary College’s Vice Principal for Learning and Assessment, Professor Adrian Boswood.
Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, commented: “It was a great honour to welcome The Prince back to Aberystwyth University. We are immensely grateful to him for opening the School which is, without a doubt, of great national significance. Tremendous thanks go to the staff, students, donors, and all our partners who have enabled us to begin training vets in Wales for the first time.
“The visit today is testament to the importance of establishing Wales’ first Veterinary School here in Aberystwyth. It is an incredibly exciting development. Aberystwyth University is growing, and in very important fields: with veterinary science this year and nursing education starting next year.”
Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University said: “It was a privilege to join students, staff, alumni and special guests at the official opening today. 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 skills that will contribute to ensuring they thrive for years to come.
“The School of Veterinary Science adds a vitally important new piece of the jigsaw, one that will build resilience in the rural economy through education and research at a time of great potential change and challenges.”
“Our students will enjoy the best of two worlds at universities that offer academic excellence and an enviable reputation for student experience. I would like to thank everyone, including our very generous donors, who has contributed to finally realising the vision of a school of veterinary science for Wales. We are delighted to be able to acknowledge the vital contribution of our alumni to the new School with a plaque in the building as well.”
The veterinary students will spend the first two years at Aberystwyth University followed by three years’ studying at the Royal Veterinary College’s Hawkshead Campus in Hertfordshire. The programme covers the full range of animals, from domestic pets to farm animals, in common with all other veterinary programmes.
Professor Stuart Reid CBE, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College added: “I, too, thank His Royal Highness for making this such a special day for a truly exciting initiative. We value greatly our collaborations with colleagues here in Aberystwyth and look forward to offering the students a warm welcome when they arrive at the RVC in two years’ time for the second part of our new joint veterinary degree.”
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 Vet School facilities on the University’s Penglais campus, the students will also study in the excellent existing laboratory facilities enjoyed by students at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences and gain valuable experience on the University’s dairy and sheep farms, and at the Lluest Equine Centre.
The course also provides opportunities for students to study specific areas of veterinary science through the medium of Welsh, which is partly funded by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.