CityU wins backing at last for vets' program

Local | Amy Nip 21 Aug 2018

The University Grants Committee supports the City University launch of a government-subsidized vets' program starting in the 2019/20 academic year.

Subject to government approval, the plan will significantly lower tuition fees for students, which now stand at HK$120,000 a year.

CityU launched the self-financed six-year Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine program in the 2017/18 academic year. It is run in collaboration with Cornell University in the United States.

Without government funding, students without scholarships pay HK$120,000 a year, much more than bachelor programs subsidized by the University Grants Committee, which costs HK$42,100 a year.

Yesterday, the UGC announced it would submit its funding recommendations for the 2019/20 to 2021/22 period to the government later this year. It would include the recommendation that CityU vets' program should be funded by the committee.

The government will consider the committee's recommendation and announce the student number target for the three years.

"The establishment of a veterinary college in Hong Kong to nurture talent in veterinary medicine is an investment that is conducive to people's health and long-term development of Hong Kong," said UGC chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing.

"If zoonotic diseases emerge in Hong Kong in the future, a local veterinary college can quickly provide appropriate facilities and manpower support and conduct related research work."

Since 2009, CityU has applied to the UGC three times to introduce a bachelor's degree in veterinary medicine.

After receiving the third proposal from CityU in 2016, the government advised CityU that there is a prima facie case for Hong Kong to consider introducing an undergraduate program in veterinary medicine. CityU submitted the latest proposal in October 2017 to the UGC. "The most important consideration for the UGC in reviewing CityU's proposal is to ensure that graduates will be able to practice veterinary medicine in Hong Kong," Tong said.

The UGC has requested CityU to submit an annual progress report before the program can obtain full accreditation status.

Yesterday, the vets' college was named Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club donated HK$500 million to the college last November.

"I am confident that the generous donation of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust will propel the college to new heights, and I look forward to the college's contribution to our work in safeguarding public health," Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at the naming ceremony.

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