In a move that will disrupt a 54-year relationship with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), the Alberta Government today announced it will re-direct funding to the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) program.
“The University of Calgary’s veterinary program has grown into a world-renowned institution, and with this new funding we will now have the capacity to train all of our students right here in Alberta,” said Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education. “The partnership with the other provinces worked for many years, but by focusing our support on one Alberta-based program, we will achieve provincial cost savings and increase access.”
As of 2020, the UCVM will receive $4.7 million per year from the provincial government, funding an additional 20 seats per year, and bringing its capacity to over 200 students by 2023.
“This investment gives more Alberta students the opportunity to enter our community-embedded veterinary medical training programs and increases our capacity to graduate local veterinarians to support the province’s food animal, equine, and pet-owning communities,” said Baljit Singh, Dean of the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
On the flip-side, the change means Alberta will no longer fund its 80 seats at the WCVM at $8 million.
WCVM Dean, Douglas Freeman, is “deeply disappointed” by the move, but says the College’s commitment to western Canadians remains firm.
It’s a sentiment U of S provost and vice-president academic, Tony Vannelli, echoes.
“The unique partnership we have developed with the western provinces over the past 50-plus years has been overwhelmingly successful in training generations of veterinary professionals,” said Vannelli. “And while the withdrawal of one partner in this agreement is extremely disappointing, it certainly won’t deter us from our mission to meet the needs within a dynamic profession that is essential to the economy of Western Canada.”
According to Freeman, WCVM students are among the top 22 per cent of graduates worldwide, and in the past four years, 97 WCVM-trained veterinarians accepted jobs in Alberta.
According to the Alberta government, this re-direction of support will save $3.3 million, and enable more students to attend University at home.