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Gateways to the veterinary profession funding secured

1 December 2006

A group led by the RCVS has successfully applied for over £90,000 from the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) with the aim of attracting veterinary students from a wider ethnic and socioeconomic base.

DfES set up its Gateways fund to allow professions to act on the findings of Sir Alan Langlands' Gateways to the Profession Report (PDF 669Kb), which was commissioned in response to concerns about the potential impact on entry to the professions when the new higher education funding regime was introduced in 2006.

The report's recommendations to DfES included: "changing unhelpful stereotypical images about the professions;" and "ensuring that young people and those who advise them, including parents and carers, have access to resources about the career opportunities that exist in each profession, the different routes available, and the qualifications and experience required for entry." (Gateways to the Professions Report, July 2005.)  

With the recent RCVS Survey of the Profession indicating that just 2% of respondents considered themselves to be 'non-white', and the number of applications per veterinary school place falling over recent years, these recommendations are particularly pertinent to the veterinary profession.

The successful group comprised the RCVS, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and six of the seven UK veterinary schools, who together have pledged over £80,000 to add to the DfES contribution.

The group's project falls into two phases: firstly, a research exercise, to include school students, their teachers and careers advisors, with the aim of understanding what motivations or barriers there are to applying to vet school; secondly, a communications campaign, developed in the light of the research findings.

Commenting on the fund, the Minister for Lifelong Learning Further and Higher Education Bill Rammell said: "The Government's Gateways to the Professions Fund supports projects that tackle the full range of issues and barriers faced by people seeking to enter the professions through higher education." 

"I welcome this project which the RCVS is to undertake and which will target young people at a time when they are making important career choices. I am confident that it will help to address barriers to the veterinary profession that some students, but particularly those from lower socioeconomic groups, may face."

"I am delighted that the project has now been given the green light," said Professor Stephen May, Chairman of the RCVS Education Policy and Specialisation Committee.

"Veterinary medicine is an intellectually-demanding degree, but successful vets also need a broad range of other attributes, such as communications skills and the ability to work under pressure. It is important that veterinary schools are able to draw students from the widest possible pool of applicants, and that potentially-excellent vets are not being put off for any reasons that we could, if we understood them, do something to change," he concluded.

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