Work of Inverness-based veterinary scientists at Scotland's rural college recognised with national award for education
Work to improve animal health and welfare through excellence in veterinary services has led to Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) being awarded a Queen’s anniversary prize for higher and further education.
The college is home to several Inverness-based scientists who have been involved in the work outlined.
The prize is the highest form of national recognition open to educational institutions in the UK and the second time in six years that SRUC has received this prestigious prize.
Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, hailed the honour as recognition of the institution’s “unique contribution to scientific excellence, impact and innovation” as it prepares to open Scotland’s fist new vet school in 150 years and continues on its journey to gaining taught degree awarding powers.
Although the prize is awarded to the institution, SRUC’s submission was built around its contribution to animal welfare, veterinary science, education, research and the economy through its world-class Veterinary Services network.
With around 7300 farmers and livestock keeper members, SRUC Veterinary Services is the largest provider of livestock health schemes in the UK, transforming animal health and welfare and contributing hundreds of millions of pounds to the economy through improved productivity.
SRUC’s flagship initiative is the Premium Cattle Health Scheme which has had a national and international impact in helping to eradicate Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD), a major cattle disease that causes slower growth rates, increased susceptibility to other diseases and raised mortality rates. The modelling and analytical work carried out by SRUC researchers is regularly cited as an example of best practice in its field.
As well as contributing to animal health and welfare and providing vital support to industry, the Veterinary Services team has also demonstrated political impact by providing the underpinning technical frameworks for sheep and goat exports to Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
The team is supported by a state-of-the-art laboratory at Pentlands Science Park in Midlothian, and a network of regional facilities from Thurso to Dumfries, which can process up to one million samples a year. These came into their own during the Covid-19 pandemic when the molecular biology facility was re-purposed for testing human samples of coronavirus.
The Queen's Anniversary Prizes recognise the excellence, innovation and public benefit of work carried out by UK colleges and universities. They are granted by The Monarch every two years.
SRUC was previously awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2017 for its dairy genetics study based around the Langhill herd at Crichton Royal Farm, Dumfries – the world’s longest running dairy study.
Professor Powell said: “Being awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize is a huge honour for everyone at Scotland’s Rural College and reflects both the quality of our research and the commitment of our staff.
“SRUC is one of the UK’s leading institutions specialising in the land-based sector at the heart of the natural economy. We have delivered national and international impact for more than 50 years through our unique network of Veterinary Services across the UK for the benefit of animal health and welfare and the rural community, as well as for veterinary science consultancy, education and research.
“This award further cements SRUC’s reputation as a centre for innovative educational excellence as we continue on our journey towards achieving degree awarding powers, and opening our new vet school in Aberdeen to grow the country’s first tertiary model of veterinary teaching and learning and address the critical shortage of vets in this sector.”
Professor Powell, Professor Jamie Newbold, Provost and Deputy Principal, and Dr Mary Thomson, vice principal – skills and lifelong learning, are attending a special event at St James Palace this evening, where all this year’s winning institutions are being announced.
This will be followed by a reception and dinner at Guildhall in London on 21 February 2024 and a formal investiture at a Royal Palace, also in February 2024.