The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

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Hokkaido University student exchange

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies recently hosted a visit by ten undergraduate students from Hokkaido University in northern Japan.

Vet Hokkaido Exchange 2017 -
We were pleased to welcome staff and students from Hokkaido University.

The visit was part of an ongoing exchange programme between the two universities which has been running since 2009. The exchange programme helps students to develop enhanced graduate attributes by providing them with an international experience, in keeping with the University of Edinburgh’s new Global Engagement Plan.

Participating students from both countries gain valuable experience of how veterinary science is practiced and taught in a different cultural environment. Through the visit they are exposed to international issues affecting the profession and gain an understanding of the influence of societal and cultural factors.

The exchange visit took place over two weeks in late September. The first half of the programme focused on the clinical aspects of veterinary practice and was based primarily in the Dick Vet. Students were divided into small groups and spent time shadowing clinicians in both the equine and small animal hospitals. They also visited the dairy unit at Langhill Farm and the beef and pig units run by the Scottish Rural College at Howgate.

During a lecture and tour around the Roslin Institute they had the opportunity to learn more about Dolly the sheep as well as the broader research objectives of the Institute. Glasgow University has always been involved in the exchange programme and a day was spent at their vet school seeing their facilities and spending some time in the farm animal hospital.

Thanks to generous funding from the Innovation Initiative Grant programme, a student-led conference was held at the University’s Easter Bush campus. An excellent range of talks was provided around a One Health theme including some leading experts from the Universities of Edinburgh and Hokaaido, as well as some outside speakers.

The programme and social events were organised by Dick Vet undergraduate students with some support from staff. Students from both universities also had the opportunity to present talks about their undergraduate research projects in a non-threatening environment. An evening reception followed the conference with a Ceilidh providing much amusement and enjoyment for all, and an opportunity to interact and make friends.

The second part of the programme had a focus on conservation and wildlife health, giving students the opportunity to pursue an area of interest outside the normal veterinary curriculum. Three days were spent near Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands and activities included a visit to the Highland Wildlife Park and Abernethy Nature Reserve. There are many similarities between the conservation challenges facing both Japan and Scotland and these issues were explored in more depth during the visit. A morning was also spent at Glenlivet Estate where issues affecting land management, ecosystem restoration and wildlife management were discussed.

Overall the exchange provides an excellent opportunity for students from both countries to have an international experience. There are many benefits from participation and the exchange provides a rewarding and enriching student and staff experience. It has also led to enhanced collaboration between the two universities at a postgraduate and research level as well as at an undergraduate level.