The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech will expand its Doctor of Veterinary Medicine professional class from 90 to 95 students effective fall 2009, according to Dr. Gerhardt Schurig, dean of the college.

This marks the first time the college has increased enrollment in the program since 1995, when the class size was expanded from 80 students to 90 students. That year, the college began accepting 10 students from around the country, in addition to the 50 students from Virginia and 30 students from Maryland it has accepted in each class since its inception.

The action was taken by the college’s executive board for a number of reasons, according to Schurig. First, there is a general consensus that the academic veterinary medical community needs to increase enrollment size in order to address a growing shortage of veterinarians in the United States.

Many colleges around the country, including the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, are developing strategies to increase their class size. Once the college’s new instructional building is constructed, for example, the college is expected to increase enrollment to 120-130 students.

An additional reason for increasing the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine class size by five students is to help offset statewide budget reductions that threaten to undermine the quality of college programs.

Increasing the class size will also enable the college to keep tuition increases below the national average, according to Schurig.