Students will have to wait a year to enrol into the Lakehead University veterinary program.
Officials confirmed that students will begin classes in the 2025-2026 school year in the Collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program for Lakehead University and the University of Guelph.
“We are trying to do things as quickly as possible, but of course, a new build like this is going to take some time,” said David Barnett, Lakehead’s provost and vice president of academic. “We will be looking at a 2025 start for the first cohort; We have discussed this with the government, [so they are aware of it] as well.”
School officials also indicated that a governance structure has been established between the post-secondary schools that includes a number of joint-working groups.
In August, the University of Guelph submitted a request for substantive change to their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program with the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, which collaborates with the American Veterinary Medical Association-Council on Education.
Those bodies grant accreditation to university programs designed to educate students to become veterinarians.
Barnett did indicate that the university has enlisted the help of a consultant.
“There are facilities that we don’t have currently on our campus, so there will be some sort of a new build,” Barnett said.
“But that’s the consultant’s work really to look at matching those functional requirements. Several of us have been down to Guelph as well to look at what [they have for facilities]. The consultant will be advising us on what that new build might look like, and certainly we will be leveraging spaces here at the university that we can.”
The students will engage in the first two years of schooling in Thunder Bay before concluding the four-year program in Guelph.
Barnett mentioned that the consultant’s report is due back in the middle of October.
In terms of finances, Lakehead University isn’t sure what an exact number would look like from them to contribute to launching the school. Barnett said that they would look at donations as well as possible applications through FedNor as well as the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
The provincial budget in March indicated a $14.7 million contribution over two years, which begins in 2024-2025, and Thunder Bay city council previously approved a $500,000 contribution from the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission.