IVSA Information and History Manual

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History of IVSA

The IVSA was founded as the “International Veterinary Students’ Union – IVSU” during the “International Holiday Camp for Veterinary Students” [Internationaler Ferienkurs für Studenten der Tiermedizin] on the 6th of August 1953 on the “Gleiberg” in Gießen, West-Germany. The first President was Patrick Rhatigan (Ireland) and the first Vice-President was Erik Hooghiemstra (the Netherlands). During this initial meeting, the objectives of the association were set, some of which are still valid today:

a) to promote the exchange of ideas on professional problems

b) to facilitate the exchange of trainees and the transfer of students from one college to another

c) to encourage the acknowledgement of all examinations for students who desire to study in foreign countries

d) to promote the exchange of ideas for better international understanding

e) to carry out and support courses and tours during vacations

In 1968, the first International Veterinary Students’ Union World Congress was held at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine (Edinburgh, Great Britain) from August 14th to 23rd . It was likely during the course of this congress that the IVSU was re-named to “International Veterinary Students’ Association – IVSA” – the name it still bears today.

What started as a small union of veterinary students from Germany, Finland, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Turkey has now become a truly global association with more than 40 member countries on every continent (except Antarctica).


Today’s IVSA

The structure of today’s IVSA was introduced at the “61st IVSA Congress” in Oslo, Norway in 2012 by the Constitution Committee, consisting of Jan Mattila (Finland), James Bost (UK and Ireland), Julie Stafford (USA – SAVMA), Tahiyya Shaik (South Africa) and Heidi Vesterinen (Finland). Today the mission of IVSA is to benefit the animals and humans of the world by harnessing the potential and dedication of veterinary students to promote the international application of veterinary skills, education and knowledge.

We aim to:

A) Encourage veterinary students to use their knowledge and abilities for the benefit of both animals and humans.

B) Raise the overall standard of veterinary education worldwide.

C) Actively support measures to improve the standard of animal welfare worldwide.

D) Provide opportunities for veterinary students to undertake education in important areas outside traditional veterinary training.

E) Encourage cooperation between members, veterinary student associations and international organizations.

IVSA addresses its aims with the following specific activities:

A) Promoting and facilitating professional and scientific exchanges as well as projects and extracurricular training for veterinary students.

B) Arranging international Congresses and Symposia to promote international understanding, exchange of ideas and best practices, and appreciation of animal health issues in different environments.

C) Supporting veterinary education, particularly in disadvantaged countries.

D) Representing the professional interest of veterinary students by collaborating with various professional bodies and organisations in the fields of veterinary care and public health.


Participation in IVSA activities

For members of an IVSA Member Organization (MO), IVSA offers numerous possibilities to fulfill the above mentioned objectives.

Right now there are three committees dealing with topics related to the field of veterinary medicine, namely:

  • The Animal Welfare Committee (AWC)
  • The Standing Committee on Veterinary Education (SCoVE)
  • The Standing Committee on One Health (SCOH)

The Chairman of each Committee gets elected at the General Assembly during the annual IVSA Congress. It is up to this Chairman to then oversee the formation of their Committee, and the work of the Committee for the next year. Please see the Committee Manuals for further information.


back to IVSA Member Manuals