Animal life story is hard listeningCity Talk | Siu Sai-wo 23 Mar 2018
Local universities have offered a range of new facilities and programs in recent years, and a focus at the City University is its College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, which started with a first class of 12 students in September.
Its bachelor of veterinary medicine program takes six years to complete. Naturally, students must not only be academically outstanding but also passionate about animal health and welfare.
The program is a self-financed one and doesn't offer many places at this stage. The 12 students were selected from 340 applicants. That winnowing means each one who made it beat 28 others - competition even more intense than trying to get into a famous direct-subsidy secondary school.
Generally speaking, veterinary training is expensive.
Many of those interested in this subject have looked to Australia as that country needs a lot of veterinarians for its robust animal husbandry sector.
The annual cost of being on such a program there - tuition plus living expenses - is about A$80,000 (HK$483,000). Completing the program will therefore require an outlay of about A$500,000, which is quite an expense.
The tuition fee for CityU's program is HK$120,000 a year and scholarships are available. Most students in this year's class have been awarded scholarships and pay only about HK$40,000 or enjoy fee-exempted status.
The program operates in collaboration with Cornell University of the United States, and the current class will have the opportunity to go on a five-week study trip to that university this summer to learn about looking after cows, sheep and horses. Qualified students have the chance to participate in specialty training there too.
Someone in the higher-education circle said that as the number of university-age students is falling recruitment becomes more challenging. Even popular programs have to make an effort to attract quality applicants.
CityU's vet school, for example, is organizing summer courses for secondary-school students nominated by principals, which is effectively moving up the recruitment process.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily