Boxel MV, Dewhurst D, der Valk JV. The European Resource Centre for Alternatives in higher education (EURCA) [abstract]. ALTEX. 2005;22(Special Issue):36


Practical pharmacology, physiology, laboratory animal science, anatomy and dissection classes intend to teach students practical skills, as well as factual knowledge and procedures regarding data handling, experimental design and communication. In many curricula animals are used, even though animal-based classes are resource and time intensive, require technical support, equipment and notably animals. Use of animals, certainly for education purposes, is questioned nowadays. There is a widespread availability of non-animal alternative models, such as computer-based simulations, static and interactive video, post-mortem material and in vitro methods. These non-animal models are often less expensive, certainly in the long run. In the context of Russell and Burch’s 3R principle, application of alternative models contributes to the reduction of animal use.

Moreover, several studies have demonstrated that the effective knowledge gain is equivalent to that of animal classes. Additional advantages of many alternatives include their suitability for tutor-independent training, possibilities for self-assessment and the inherent combination of theoretical and practical components. The choice for the adequate model to use depends on individual tutors to clearly define learning objectives. The European Resource Centre on Alternatives in higher education has an on-line database aimed at helping teachers making a well-balanced decision. The EURCA database ( offers extensive information on high-quality peer-reviewed models. Furthermore, EURCA demonstrates models from its database and offers advice to teachers at national and international meetings.

Link to journal: ALTEX - Alternatives to Animal Experimentation