Vet courses gain ability to apply for extra student places
Industry lobbying has seen the Department of Education add veterinary medicine to the list of subjects that can apply for additional student places.
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Education had previously announced that it would be placing a cap on the number of student places at universities in England. But in its latest document, the Department of Education confirmed that veterinary courses could now, if needed, apply for a share of 5,000 additional places that have been made available.
The move comes after the BVA, the RCVS and the Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) wrote to Universities minister Michelle Donelan expressing their concerns over the plans and its potential impact on veterinary medicine degrees in England and the veterinary workforce.
Their letter stated that the coronavirus pandemic was likely to severely prevent the flow of EU registrants, particularly in the context of the UK leaving the European Union, and that any cap placed on the six universities in England offering veterinary medicine degrees would further diminish 'home-grown' veterinary capacity.
Professor Susan Dawson, Dean of Liverpool Vet School, Chair of the Veterinary Schools Council and a member of RCVS Council, was one of the co-signatories of the letter. She said: “We are very glad that the combined efforts of the regulator and the representative bodies for veterinary surgeons and veterinary schools respectively, was able to sway the Government to grant veterinary courses in England access to this additional allocation of student places.
“The coronavirus has had an obvious and understandable impact on the number of EU veterinary surgeons choosing to live and work here. Combined with continued uncertainty over the status of the Brexit trade talks and the future of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, we were looking at a potential ‘perfect storm’ situation with the addition of caps on the number of student vets in the UK."
BVA president, Daniella Dos Santos added: “It is encouraging to see that the Government has listened to our concerns and enabled veterinary schools in England to access additional student places amid its decision to apply a temporary cap on student numbers. Access to additional places for vet schools will help to mitigate any negative impact that the pandemic may have on student numbers, which in turn would exacerbate the shortage of veterinary surgeons there already is in the UK."