KVAFSU is offering three new courses this year.
No less than 1,300 veterinary doctor posts lie vacant in government veterinary hospitals and clinics across Karnataka. This accounts for anywhere between 30 and 40 per cent vacancies, a figure that is more or less consistent with the veterinary healthcare situation in the private sector. Academics say that the situation is worse in teaching hospitals where postgraduate candidates are hard to come by for teaching posts. Despite starting two more colleges — two more in Gadag and Athani are on the anvil, taking the total number up to six — both colleges and hospitals face acute shortage.
The interest in veterinary sciences, which was once dwindling with most students running after IT jobs, is now on the rise. Despite this heartening trend, academics feel that to take veterinary education to the next level, adding to the number of colleges is not enough. Keeping this in mind, the Karnataka Veterinary and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU) introduced three new courses this year. Offered currently in the 52-year-old Veterinary College in Hebbal, Bangalore, the courses are all tailored to meet current requirements and build expertise in various fields related to veterinary sciences — be it dairy management or treating wildlife.
In an interview with The Hindu, KVAFSU Vice-Chancellor Suresh S. Honnappagol and Dean of Veterinary College (Hebbal, Bangalore), S. Yathiraj, spoke about the new courses, and explained the rationale behind introducing them. Emphasising on the fact that job opportunities were aplenty in this profession, Mr. Honnappagol said that the courses that were started mid-term last year have met with good response.
Specialise in wildlife
One that addresses a critical need, of specialists in wildlife veterinary medicine, is the newly-introduced Master of Veterinary Sciences (MVSc.). This two-year course, though not the only one in the country, is among the few that offer specialisation in the field. As Prof. Yathiraj puts it, wildlife vets in the country are those who have taken to it out of sheer interest, by seeking jobs that give them exposure to wildlife medicine and learning on the job. “However, this is a highly specialised field that requires special training and expertise. Now, this course offers scope to specialise,” he explains. In fact, the five students that they have on-board now will soon be moved to the Institute for Wildlife Veterinary Research.
A first of its kind standalone institute, which is currently under construction in Madikeri taluk of Kodagu district, it will offer the course, and will also focus on advanced research activities, particularly in the field of wildlife protection and conservation. Veterinarians who have completed their bachelor's are eligible for this. Prof. Honnappagol said that though other universities were offering this course under particular departments, this is the first time that it will be offered as a standalone course by an institute that specialises in this field.
A different MBA
The business side of the food and dairy industry has always been handled by generalists. With the exception of those who choose to top their graduation in veterinary or dairy sciences with a management degree or diploma, experts point out that the food and dairy industry felt the need for specialists who could understand issues specific to this particular industry.
With this in mind, the KVAFSU introduced an MBA course in Food and Dairy Business (MBA-FDB). A self-financed programme, this is open to those who have either completed four or five years of graduation. This makes M.Sc. graduates (in any discipline), Bachelor's in Technology courses (B.Tech) or veterinary and dairy technology graduates eligible. The first batch, that was started mid-year in 2009, comprises 17 students, and the total intake for the batch has been set at 40 to begin with. “We are aware that the food business is the second largest industry, and a growing one at that. Today, food and preferences are changing as people are particular about quality and value-added products. So there is a dearth of managers who can deal with these issues,” says Prof. Honnappagol. This course attempts to expose students to these aspects of market intelligence, technological aspects needed to increase shelf-life of products etc. There are courses in agricultural management, but none of those focus on food and dairy.
Another course, Master's in Veterinary Sciences (Biochemistry), that has been introduced in response to recent guidelines by the Veterinary Council of India offers bright career prospects too. Prof. Honnappagol explains that according to these guidelines the department of veterinary physiology has been bifurcated into two departments, veterinary physiology and biochemistry.
This course is different from the regular Master's degree in Biochemistry as it exposes students to veterinary research and clinical treatment, in addition to regular biochemistry subjects.
Pointing out that livestock and dairy sector accounts for a good six per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product, Prof. Honnappagol says that budgetary allocations have not been proportional. “More attention needs to be paid to research and development of veterinary sciences and education. Livestock is deeply connected to livelihood security for agriculturists. So it is important that proper investment is made in this sector.”
Courses offered in colleges affiliated to the university are Bachelor's in Veterinary Sciences (BVSc) and Animal Husbandry (AH), fisheries and B.Tech-D.Tech (Bachelor's in Technology in Dairy Technology).
Admissions are through the Common Entrance Test conducted by the Karnataka Examinations Authority. Students must have appeared for Biology, Physics and Chemistry. An aggregate of the Pre-University course marks and the CET marks is used to compute ranks that decide admissions.
For the B.Tech (D.Tech) and B.F.Sc degree course, candidates must have studies Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. The Fisheries College in Mangalore offers Bachelor of Fisheries Science (BFSc).