A Caribbean university will soon launch a veterinary school that will partner with a U.S-based, AVMA-accredited institution.
The newly formed School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the American University of Antigua's University Park campus, located on the island of Antigua, West Indies, announced in late August that it will begin accepting students in January 2010.
In addition, AUA signed an agreement with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech to provide transfer opportunities for qualified AUA veterinary students to complete their third and fourth years of veterinary training there. These transfer students will become Virginia Tech students, and once they complete their clinical training through the veterinary school's program and hospital, will graduate with a DVM degree from Virginia Tech.
The Antiguan university, which was founded in 2003, already has established medical and nursing programs. Neal Simon, president and co-founder of AUA, said his institution decided to establish the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences after talking with Virginia Tech, according to an Aug. 25 Virginia-Maryland press release.
Peter Bell, PhD, vice president of academic affairs and executive dean at AUA, told JAVMA that the school is not partnering exclusively with Virginia-Maryland in the sense that no other veterinary college may come on board later. Instead, "We partner with them as our lead or senior partner," Dr. Bell said.
Establishing the veterinary school and forming the partnership took about a year, Dr. Bell said.
"We had a lot of face-to-face meetings here in Antigua as well as in Virginia, and both parties thought this would be a really interesting way to tackle ongoing problems with veterinary medicine," Dr. Bell said.
He continued, "It's basically about providing a very good, high-quality education to students to enable them to become good and caring vets in the U.S. and elsewhere and in the Caribbean, where we are facing a shortage of veterinarians as well."
Virginia-Maryland Dean Gerhardt G. Schurig echoed those sentiments.
"(Antigua's) desire to expand into preparing future veterinarians for their clinical phase at (Virginia-Maryland) creates another avenue for us to graduate a larger number of students, and we welcome it," Dr. Schurig said, according to the press release.
He added that the new agreement will also have the potential to increase class diversity and reduce overall tuition increases for students at Virginia-Maryland.
To begin, at least five students from the Antiguan university will complete their first two years of education in Antigua. They will then be given the opportunity to transfer to Virginia-Maryland, pending the successful completion of the required National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners Qualifying Examination.