There is a big rush for courses in veterinary and allied sciences

Veterinary and allied sciences have emerged as preferred courses of talented students in recent years. “Just five years ago, we went around colleges sticking posters and distributing pamphlets asking students to study veterinary and allied sciences. Now, we receive 10-15 times the number of applications for the 300-odd seats,” says Suresh Honnappagol, Vice-Chancellor of the Bidar-based Karnataka Veterinary, Animal, Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU).

“When the University was formed in 2005, the number of applications received for the 200-odd seats was not more than 300. Now, we receive around 4,500 applications for 300 seats,” he said.

According to him, the reason for this is the increasing employment opportunities for graduates in veterinary and allied subjects. “A fair estimate of vacancies tells us that no veterinary graduate will remain unemployed in the coming decade.” Jobs are being created in government and private sectors at the same rate. “The most lucrative career of a veterinarian is treating pet animals. Nowadays, there are chains of pet care centres and clinics in the metros.”

According to him, around 700 posts of veterinarians are vacant in the State Government services alone. The Government has promised to fill the vacancies. Secondly, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and other premier agencies are supporting research in an unprecedented manner. These agencies fund several hundred research projects every year and it is not difficult for a passionate student to consider being a researcher all his life.

Corporate investment

“At the national level, there is a 40 per cent vacancy in all teaching and research institutions. The demand for candidates who have completed postgraduation and doctorate courses will not come down for some time now,” he said. “At the same time, the job market has significantly expanded in the private sector. There has been a steady growth of corporate investment in hatcheries, dairies and fish farms. Corporate interest in breeding of exotic birds such as emu is also picking up. All these places need qualified personnel. Several stud farms, equestrian agencies and zoological gardens have also recruited our students. In some States, veterinarians, teachers and researchers have moved from the government to the private sector.''

M.M. Appannanavar, technical advisor to the Vice-Chancellor, pointed out that graduates and postgraduates of dairy sciences are also sought by the defence forces. “The Remount Veterinary Corps of the Indian army, various military farms and cantonment settlements hire veterinarians and dairy technologists. Veterinary surgeons are in great demand in the Middle East where camels are used as draught animals. Postgraduates in fisheries sciences are joining research agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation in India and abroad.”

Stiff compeition

“The cut-off percentage for all categories of students has been increasing every year,” says S.M. Usturge, Dean of the Bidar Veterinary College. Competition for admission is so stiff that the cut-off percentage for various categories of students is almost equal. “This is overwhelming,” Dr. Usturge said.

According to the University's admission records this year, the cut-off percentage for general merit category was 74. It was the same for students of Scheduled Tribe and Backward Class category 1, 2A, 3A and 3B. While the cut-off for 2B category stood at 73 per cent, it was 70 per cent for SC students.

Dr. Appannanavar points to an interesting trend. “The percentage of girls in veterinary and allied courses is increasing. Just ten years ago, there were very few girls in such courses. Now, half the students of fisheries courses are girls. In dairy sciences it is around 40 per cent and in veterinary sciences, girls form nearly 30 per cent of the student population,'' he said.

Similarly popular is the MBA course started recently in the Dairy Sciences College, Bangalore. The course is under self-financing mode. Pass-outs are being placed in food processing industries, dairy units and packaged food trade. The institute admits 20 students per year. Graduates of veterinary and allied sciences are eligible. Those who have passed agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, and BBA and BBM can also apply. Candidates have to face an entrance test and an interview.

From this year the University will start polytechnic colleges that offer diploma courses for youth who have completed SSLC or 10th standard. The objectives behind this move are to produce mid-level workers in animal clinics and to prepare professionals who can rear and manage livestock, poultry, sheep and goat and horses. “The two-year course will not only be job-oriented, but will also help young people set up dairies, poultry or fish farms,'' says Dr. Honnappagol.

Wildlife medicine

An interesting course offered by the University is the Master of Veterinary Sciences in wildlife medicine. A vast campus is coming up on the fringes of the forest in Doddaluvara village in Somwarpet taluk of Kodagu district. It offers postgraduate diplomas and helps researchers obtain doctoral degrees.

The University, started in Bidar in 2005, has Statewide jurisdiction. It has four veterinary colleges, two dairy science colleges and one fisheries college. A veterinary college is proposed at Gadag..

It also has eight research and information centres where farmers are trained in livestock and fish rearing. The University runs an institute for animal health and veterinary biologicals in Bangalore and another one for wildlife research in Kodagu. A vaccine research centre in Belgaum and a toxicological centre in Shimoga are on the anvil.

www.kvafsu.kar.nic.in.