With a number of Fiji National University graduates from the veterinary program calling for answers and solutions as they are still not registered to practice as vets, the Ministry of Agriculture has said in a statement that they will work closely with the FNU in resolving matters regarding the graduates.
This is after FNU students who graduated with a Bachelors in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry program raised concerns as their 6 years of studies and hard work is not accredited and recognized in Fiji.
These students have also spent around $40,000 to $80,000 on their studies but still do not have a job as a practicing vet.
Following a meeting between the two institutions, the resolutions collectively agreed to address the registration issue for graduates of the Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry program.
This includes the set-up of the veterinary council whereby the Ministry of Agriculture will review the current Veterinary Surgeons Acts, allow for the setting up of a Fiji Veterinary Council and will oversee the registration of qualified veterinarians enabling them to practice in Fiji.
It is anticipated that this process will take at least one year to complete.
FNU also says the Ministry of Agriculture in consultation with Fiji Higher Education Commission and industry stakeholders, has noted gaps in the current Bachelor of Veterinary Science program and as such they have agreed on a registration pathway for the 55 graduates.
They say under the pathway, to register as a practicing veterinarian in Fiji, the current graduates will have to go through a qualifying exam and a mandatory six-month internship either overseas or at local veterinary services and clinics.
The Ministry of Agriculture will also assist FNU in exploring funding opportunities from donors or sponsors for the internship.
FNU will also advise graduates about the internship, qualifying examination and the registration of the graduates as vets will follow on from the qualifying exams.
It is envisaged that graduates who may not pass the internship and qualifying exams may qualify as para-vets or assistant vets.
Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture, Vatimi Rayalu stressed that as a registration authority, the Ministry is responsible for upholding the veterinary standards to protect people, industry stakeholders, animal health and welfare, to maintain trust in veterinary professionals and that the Ministry is very much committed to the pathway and will work very closely with FNU to resolve the issue.
FNU Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Unaisi Nabobo Baba says the university acknowledges the commitment by the Ministry in establishing a solutions-based and clear path forward.
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