City may get its first veterinary college

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am

Hong Kong's first veterinary medical school may be set up by City University in response to a shortage of vets, acting Secretary for Education Kenneth Chen Wei-on says.

'We understand that City University has recently initiated informal discussions with the University Grants Committee ... [about] setting up a veterinary medical school, but such discussions are at a very early stage,' Mr Chen said yesterday.

City University has confirmed informing the committee about its intention to establish a school of veterinary medicine.

Mr Chen also said Polytechnic University would set up self-financing degree programmes in co-operation with the University of London's Royal Veterinary College.

Non-credit-based subjects collectively known as foundation studies in veterinary nursing have been on offer since November.

Mr Chen was responding to a question by lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, who noted the city had relatively few veterinary surgeons and asked for a progress report on developments in the field.

Mr Chen acknowledged that the city faced a shortage of veterinarians. Only 512 are registered, according to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

'The government is studying whether we should allow more vets from different countries to become eligible as registered vets here. Currently we accept the qualifications of only 40 countries,' he said.

Agricultural sector legislator Wong Yung-kan asked whether the government would consider opening a large veterinary medical school to produce professionals for the entire Asia-Pacific region, but Mr Chen replied that it seemed unlikely.

'There is no big agricultural industry in Hong Kong where these students could serve their internship,' he said, but added that the government would consider the idea.