FNU students undertake internship programme at Massey University

Press Release Posted On: May 9, 2023

Three students from the Fiji National University (FNU) who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry programme have departed for a six-month internship at Massey University in New Zealand.

Three students from the Fiji National University (FNU) who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry programme have departed for a six-month internship at Massey University in New Zealand.

The internship was initiated by the College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF) for Seruwaia Maramanibure, Shaeneel Shahil Prasad and Divya Lal. The trio are the only students to complete the course this year.

Traditionally, Year 6 Veterinary students complete six months of industry-based internship in Fiji, rotating between different operations, including the Ministry of Agriculture, farms, and animal clinics. The internship was facilitated by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) through the Pacific Biosecurity Programme, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to help prevent incursions of transboundary animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The funding covers airfares and study, accommodation, and basic living expenses.

The students will join the final year students of Tāwharau Ora, Massey University’s School of Veterinary Science, with engagement at several sites around the North Island. This will conclude with a two-week workshop on trans-border disease control in Wellington later this year.

FNU Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba acknowledged the collaboration and said it would assist the University in providing the learning support required for its students.

“FNU will continue to improve our students’ experience through important and valued relationships, such as this one with Massey University and the New Zealand Government,” she shared.

Speaking at an interactive farewell meeting with staff of Massey University and MPI, CAFF Dean Professor Paul Iji thanked Massey University and MPI for the opportunity provided to the students from Fiji.

He stated that the students would not only learn veterinary practice in NZ but will be engaged in a lot of cultural activities.

Massey University Academic Dean of Veterinary Science, Professor Jenny Weston was pleased to welcome the students to the Manawatū campus in April and is confident that the students will gain a lot of value from the period of training in the various clinics of Massey’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

MPI’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mary van Andel added that veterinarians play a critical role in biosecurity systems.

“These internships are one way in which New Zealand can assist in building vital animal health capacity and capability in the Pacific, strengthening regional biosecurity, animal health practices and overall resilience of Pacific agricultural economies,” Dr van Andel said.

Student Seruwaia Maramanibure said she was grateful to be part of the internship programme and was grateful for the welcoming reception that they received at their first training station, the Massey University Pet Emergency Clinic.

Divya Lal added that the training would ensure the completeness of the veterinary studies through clinicals and real-time on-hand practicals.

“I look forward to being part of the school and making the most of this learning experience,” she said.

Shaeneel Shahil Prasad said he aims to gain further knowledge, skills and experience during the internship.

“This will allow us to return to Fiji and demonstrate what we have learned during our time at Massey University,” Prasad said.

Prof Iji said the College will send a staff member to assess the students during the period of internship.  The students will present their final report to the College and will be assessed prior to graduation.

“The Veterinary degree programme now has only nine continuing students, including four from the region in Year 4.  These are students who passed the pre-veterinary examination that is required to proceed to clinical courses and rotatory training in the field,” he said.

“The College plans to introduce a health management component into its current Bachelor of Science (Animal Science) programme to develop paraveterinary specialists for Fiji and the South Pacific region.  The Veterinary Science degree programme will be phased out at the end of 2026.”