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Overseas vet students ‘should be exempt from immigration targets’
In 2017, nearly 22 per cent of vet students studying in the UK were not British citizens.
BVA, RCVS and VSC submit recommendations to advisory committee 

Veterinary organisations are urging the government not to include overseas veterinary students in the UK’s immigration targets. Failure to exempt students from the targets will increase the downward pressure on the number of qualified vets able to come to the UK from overseas, they warned.

The recommendation was made by the BVA, RCVS and Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) in a joint paper submitted to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

MAC is an independent body that provides the government with advice on migration issues. Last autumn it launched a consultation calling for views on the economic and social impacts of international students.

BVA, RCVS and VSC also said that overseas veterinary students who qualify in the UK should be able to remain here to live and work after graduation. This would help to alleviate the current shortage of vets.

Furthermore, any required increase in the number of UK-national veterinary graduates must be properly funded, they added. International students currently make a disproportionate contribution to the finances of veterinary schools.

In 2017, nearly 22 per cent of vet students studying in the UK were not British citizens. Out of 1,145 non-UK students, 129 were from EU countries and 1,016 were from non-EU countries.

Whilst the number of EU students was relatively small, the joint paper pointed out that EU nationals make up 22 per cent of veterinary surgeons working in academia in the UK. Most of these perform roles that are directly linked to the provision of education and training for the undergraduate veterinary degree.

RCVS president Professor Stephen May said the paper was submitted “against the backdrop of potential staff shortages across the veterinary sector as a whole”. This will be exacerbated if the flow of EU vets into the UK is stemmed after Brexit, or if large numbers of EU citizens already in the UK decide to go elsewhere to work.

BVA president John Fishwick added: “The measures outlined in our submission aim to help maintain the necessary numbers of highly educated and skilled vets. Fulfilling the demand for vets, following the departure of the UK from the EU, will be essential to maintain animal health and welfare, public health, food safety and trade.

“Enabling overseas veterinary students who qualify in the UK to remain and continue to contribute following graduation will help alleviate a shortage of vets.”

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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.