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 Veterinary Schools Council’s guide to admissions processes and entry requirements for UK veterinary schools has a good outline of how UK vet schools promote 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 Bristol Scholars scheme.

The Gateway to Veterinary Science programme is aimed at students who have the potential to become vets but do not meet the standard academic entry criteria to apply directly to the five-year undergraduate veterinary science course. Successful completion of this gateway year allows automatic progression onto the BVSc programme.

The university also has a contextual offer policy and 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 applicants' schools and the 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 generous. UK students from low-income households can access non-repayable bursaries from the Cambridge Bursary Scheme, as well as having access to a wide variety of hardship funds.

The university’s Access and Participation Plan for 2020/21–2024/25 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 all secondary schools in the west of Scotland who have an interest in studying for a professional degree in veterinary medicine.

The Reach programme helps prospective vet students build up knowledge and experience, both academic and practical, which they can draw on if they decide to apply to vet school. 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. Successful completion of the programme can also lead to adjusted entry requirements to the University of Glasgow.

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 mature candidates and non-traditional students who are interested in clinical sciences, including the Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), and who typically have taken a break from education. 

Details of the entry requirements can be found here.

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. Students completing the course successfully will automatically progress on to the RVC's Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degree programme. They will also be eligible to apply to continue their studies at other UK vet schools, with the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool guaranteeing to interview those on the RVC’s Gateway year.

Applicants will need to fulfil the RVC's  widening participation preconditions, widening participation criteria and academic requirements to be considered for interview. Full details of the entry requirements can be found here.

RVC also gives contextual offers on the standard BVetMed programme to those who meet certain widening participation criteria.

Information about all widening participation and outreach activity at the RVC can be found here

University of Nottingham

University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham offers a gateway year to help widen participation in veterinary medicine. Students successfully completing the year will automatically gain entry to Nottingham's five-year veterinary medicine and surgery degree.

The university’s contextual admissions policy can be found here and further information on widening participation can be found here.

University of Surrey

Surrey vet school
In2Surrey is the University of Surrey's access scheme and offers benefits to support students who are under-represented in higher education. The university also offers a range of bursaries to support eligible students financially during their studies. 


New veterinary schools

There are currently two UK veterinary schools accepting students to study veterinary medicine that are yet to be accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Details of widening participation activities at Aberystwyth University and Harper & Keele Veterinary School are given below. New veterinary schools are also being established at the University of Central Lancashire and Scotland’s Rural College although full details are not yet available.


Aberystwyth University

[yet to be accredited by the RCVS]

The BVSC veterinary science degree offered by Aberystwyth University is being delivered in collaboration with the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). The widening participation criteria follow those offered by the RVC as described above.

Harper & Keele Veterinary School

[yet to be accredited by the RCVS]

Harper & Keele Veterinary School

Harper & Keele Veterinary School offers a contextualised admissions process that seeks to reduce barriers to veterinary education. Information about contextualised offers and the school’s Year 0 and Foundation options can be found here.

Back to Categories