Overview of widening participation at UK veterinary schools

Widening participation at UK vet schools

Under-represented groups and disadvantaged applicants

UK vet schools want to increase the participation of under-represented groups in veterinary education – in particular, participation from ethnic minority candidates. Ethnic minority students are more likely to have experienced educational disadvantage and are less likely to have considered or been encouraged to consider veterinary medicine as a career.

UK vet schools are also strongly encouraging applications from candidates who have experienced educational or financial disadvantage. Personal situations will be considered during the selection processes, as well as support from the vet schools once applicants are on a veterinary course. 

How UK vet schools are widening participation 

Below is an outline of some of the ways UK vet schools are widening participation in their courses. The VSC’s guide to admissions processes and entry requirements for the UK veterinary schools (2019 applications) has a good outline of how UK vet schools promote admissions of applications from disadvantaged and under-represented groups. 

University of Bristol:

Bristol university

The University of Bristol has various schemes to assist applications from students in local area schools including Pathways to Health Sciences and the new Bristol Scholars scheme.

The Gateway to Veterinary Science programme has five veterinary places (125 applicants for 2018 entry). Successful completion of this gateway year allows automatic progression onto the five-year BVSc programme.

The university also has a contextual offer policy (A*BC or AAC to include chemistry and one of biology, physics or maths) which is a two grade lower offer than the standard offer. The university also welcomes applications from those with non-traditional backgrounds.

University of Cambridge:

Cambridge University

During the admissions process, the University of Cambridge has access to a large amount of contextual information about the performance of applicant’s schools and support the school offers to students aiming for university. There are also opportunities for students to inform the university of any educational disadvantage they may have faced.

The university’s financial support is also generous. UK students from low-income households receive thousands of pounds each year from the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, as well as having access to a wide variety of hardship funds. All students can apply for funding for travel, sport and music, and these funds can be invaluable for vet students, whose ability to do paid work during university vacations is limited by the need to conduct EMS. 

The university’s Access and Participation Plan for 2019/2020 is available here

University of Edinburgh: 

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh seeks to attract a wide range of applicants from different social, cultural and educational backgrounds, known as contextual admissions. Further information on the university’s widening access offers can be found here

University of Glasgow: 

Glasgow University

The University of Glasgow’s Reach programme works with S4–S6 pupils in 95 schools across the west of Scotland who have an interest in and ability to study a professional degree in veterinary medicine and surgery.

The Reach programme will ensure that prospective vet students are well prepared for their transition to university. Participants gain an understanding of career pathways, experiences of university learning and teaching, support with every aspect of the application process and advice from staff and students on becoming a vet. All Reach programme applicants who meet the minimum entry requirements in S5 are guaranteed an interview.

Further information on widening participation at the University of Glasgow can be found here

University of Liverpool: 

Liverpool University

The University of Liverpool’s Foundation to Health and Veterinary Studies (Year 0) is available to candidates who are interested in clinical sciences, including the Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc). There are five places each year.

Types of candidates considered includes those that have had a break from education, did not complete post-16 education or do not hold qualifications that would be considered for direct entry onto the BVSc degree.

Applicants are required to have five GCSEs at grade B, including maths, english and science. The university also considers applications for the BVSc course from candidates who have completed or are undertaking certain ‘access to higher education’ diplomas. 

Further information on widening participation at the University of Liverpool can be found here

Royal Veterinary College (RVC): 

Students at RVC

The RVC’s Veterinary Gateway course is aimed at students who might not otherwise meet the standard entry requirements due to social, economic or educational barriers. It integrates an additional year designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to study veterinary medicine.

The RVC aims to place 50 students on this course and typical requirements are five GCSEs at grade 4 (C) and CCC at A level or equivalent. Applicants must also meet the Route A or Route B requirements.

RVC also gives contextual offers on the standard BVetMed programme of ABB at A level or AB at Advanced Higher, to those who meet two or more criteria.

All widening participation and outreach activity at the RVC can be found here

University of Nottingham: 

University of Nottingham

Contextual offers (AAB in any order) are made to applicants meeting two of the widening participation criteria detailed here. Applicants who meet three of the criteria may be eligible for thee Gateway programme. 

Further information on widening participation can be found here

Two new vet schools

There are two new vet schools in the UK, University of Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine and Harper & Keele Veterinary school. Both are not yet accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). 

Surrey’s first cohort of veterinary students graduated in July 2019. The university is liaising with the RCVS to ensure that their veterinary medicine & science course meets the standards required for the RCVS to recommend that a Recognition Order is made in 2019

The first intake to the Harper and Keele Veterinary School will be in 2020. 

Both universities are committed to widening participation in the following ways: 

University of Surrey:

Surrey vet school

A process called recognition of prior learning (RPL) may allow applicants to enter the veterinary medicine course at a point appropriate to their previous learning and experience, or to join at the start of the course without the formal entry requirements. This means that applicants may be exempt from certain elements of study in the course for which they have applied and may be awarded credit based on their previous qualifications and/or experience.

See the code of practice for recognition of prior learning and prior credit: taught programmes PDF for more details. 

Harper & Keele Veterinary School:

Harper & Keele Veterinary School

The extended degree in Bioveterinary Science (Veterinary Science Pathway 2) provides a preparatory year for students hoping to transfer to the Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVetMS) degree.

Progression will be based on prior qualifications, preparatory year performance and for some routes a fitness to practice assessment.

In addition to this, applicants will also need to have achieved AAB at A level (or equivalent) including A2 Biology or Chemistry at grade A, plus another science to be eligible to study the modules in pathway 2.

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