Zemanova MA. Prevalence of Conscientious Objection Policies to Harmful Animal Use in Education at Medical and Veterinary Faculties in Europe. Trends High. Educ. 2023; 2(2):332-339


The harmful use of animals in university education has been the topic of an ongoing debate
for many years. With growing animal welfare concerns and the advancement of humane teaching
methods, students have been asking for more ethical educational approaches. Consequently, many
universities have established policies regarding conscientious objection to harmful animal use in
education. These policies allow students and faculty members who object to the harmful use of
animals on ethical or religious grounds to opt out of participation in such activities without facing
negative consequences. Several universities worldwide have already implemented formal policies.
However, no studies have yet investigated the extent of conscientious objection policies at universities
within the EU and Switzerland. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess—for the first time—the
prevalence of conscientious objection policies at medical and veterinary faculties in Europe. The data
showed that 94% of 348 faculties across 28 European countries still do not have a written and publicly
available policy that allows students to use humane teaching methods. The future development
and widespread implementation of such policies is an essential step toward creating an educational
environment that is inclusive, respectful, and committed to ethical and innovative practices.