Applying to vet school as a grad – part 1

Applying to vet school is difficult when you’re 17 and trying to get three As and ten weeks of work experience. I don’t know if it’s easier or harder once you’re 21+ and working full time or finishing degree #1, but it’s definitely different in lots of ways. The university websites plus literally thousands of online resources outline exactly what’s expected from the school leavers; working out graduate applications takes a slightly more digging. Given the time and effort I put into researching this over the last two years I thought it was worth putting what I’d gathered in one place in the hope that it’s useful to the next round of hopeful grads. Good luck!

I hadn’t realised quite how much stuff I’d accumulated about going back to uni. I’d made spreadsheets and filled a ring binder, for god’s sake. So I’ve split this down into several posts, the first of which covers…

Which vet schools should you apply for?

The UK has seven vet schools and UCAS allows you to apply to four. You can also apply abroad (Slovakia seems a popular choice) but I don’t cover that here (except for Ireland) as it wasn’t an option for me and I didn’t research it enough to pass on anything useful.

For almost everyone cost will narrow the field straight away. The English universities charge standard undergraduate fees (currently £9,000/year, rising to £9,250 and who knows how much more) for second-time students. However, the Scottish and Irish vet schools charge much more. Even though Dublin and Edinburgh offer 4-year graduate programmes, the course costs still add up to more than 5 years in England.

In case you were still considering:

  Annual fee for grad-entry vets: Total over full length of course:
Glasgow £26,250 £131,250
Edinburgh £29,000 £116,000
Dublin £16,719* £66,876

*Converted from Euro on 08/01/17. When I first researched this it came out about £2,000 less so even if you feel you can afford it in first year, you have to worry about exchange rates and of course becoming a non-EU student!

The remaining vet schools to choose from are Liverpool, Bristol, Royal Veterinary College, Cambridge, Nottingham and Surrey. Out of these Cambridge is the anomaly as you may have to pay additional college fees of several thousand pounds per year. You’d need to discuss these with the college you apply to as they vary and/or don’t apply at every college.

A second important factor is the length of the course. At the short end, RVC offer an accelerated (four year) graduate entry programme. You’ll qualify a year sooner but based on my estimates slightly worse off than if you spend five years elsewhere due to the higher cost of living in and around London. The first year is spent with entirely other graduates, which might make it easier to settle in and socialise than joining a class of mostly 18 year old. On the other hand the Cambridge vet course last six years with an intercalated year in another department. You may be able to discuss skipping the extra year with your college but it’s still a factor to bear in mind.

A few other points:

  • Cambridge also require you to sit the BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test), which the other universities do not.
  • Surrey is such a new vet school that it’s not yet accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (accreditation means graduates are vets, not just highly skilled biologists). However it’s fully expected to gain this in 2019 once their first year of graduates finish the course.
  • Some universities expect you to meet their A-level requirements as well as the 2.1 degree qualification so it’s worth checking whether this narrows down your options at all.

With the graduate- and vet-specific factors out of the way, it now comes down to all the things you considered the first time you were comparing unis… campus vs. city, the area, the facilities, proximity to home etc. There seem to be lots of posts online about which is the “best” or “worst” vet school, or “best for horses/cows/dogs/rabbits”, but I’m yet to see a consensus on the answer. Every open day I went to the students told me their uni was the best so you’ll have to decide for yourself!

The next part of my grad application info dump will be up next weekend and focus on work experience and meeting entry requirements whilst working or studying. Thanks for reading and I hope this is useful to someone!

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