Veterinary medicine program not considered for elimination

Question

I heard a rumor that the UAF vet program has a maximum enrollment of 20 students and is the most expensive academic program at UAF.

Why is the program not being considered for “special review”?  I heard a rumor that the cost of this program exceeds $100,000 per student graduated per year.

Response

It is true that currently the veterinary medicine program can admit a total of only 20 students. However, vet med students (in common with all students studying veterinary medicine in the U.S.) pay a very high tuition rate along with substantial fees, totaling nearly $30,000 per year if an Alaska resident and nearly $60,000 per year if a non-resident. Although we don’t know the final tuition figures for FY17 (this depends on the number of residents and nonresidents who enroll), we anticipate about $800,000. For comparison, this would be the amount of tuition paid by about 130 full-time Alaska resident undergraduate students.

While the tuition revenue does not cover the whole cost of the vet med program, it covers a substantial portion. The cost per student will not be $100,000 per year.  During the first year, when there were only 10 students, the cost/student was relatively high because of the need to have nearly the full complement of faculty in place. Going forward, the cost/student should be close to $50,000 per year.
In addition, several of the vet med faculty collaborated to secure a National Institutes of Health grant for the Biomedical Learning and Student Training program, which is providing $20 million to UAF (with collaborators UAS and Ilisagvik College) to enhance undergraduate biomedical research training, engaging students from diverse, especially rural Alaskan, backgrounds in education and training for biomedical research careers.  Each year BLaST supports full scholarships for 10- 20 undergraduate and 10-15 graduate students, and provides hundreds of thousands of dollars for faculty research. For the next three years there is also $420,000 for new equipment purchases, most of which will be located at UAF.  Hence the BLaST grant benefits the entire university.
UAF was competitive for the BLaST grant because we had a biomedical department, namely vet med. Although there is fierce competition for grants from the NIH and other agencies, vet med has highly qualified and productive faculty who are having considerable success. Between BLaST and other grants currently awarded to vet med faculty, the program brought in over $6 million this year in external funding, and we are projecting an increase in this number for next year.
Hence, the net cost of this program (that is, expenditures-revenue) is not unusually high. In addition, the vet med program is well aligned with UAF’s mission.  Together, those are the reasons the program is not being considered for elimination.
— Susan Henrichs, UAF provost