UK veterinary school to double its intake in response to workforce shortage

Published on April 10, 2019

The University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, in Nottingham, England, announced a plan to change its admissions systems by nearly doubling its intake of students starting this year.

University of Nottingham SVMS
The University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science in Nottingham, England (Courtesy of University of Nottingham)

The new process is a dual-intake system that will bring in 150 undergraduate students in September this year and a second cohort of 150 students in April 2020. The increase, which will continue for the foreseeable future, is in response to a veterinary shortage in the United Kingdom and the fear that the shortage will worsen with the British exit from the European Union. The veterinary school currently accepts 165 students annually.

"There are a number of reasons that make this the right decision at this time, including the pull of the manpower shortage and the push of the number of applicants to veterinary medicine, coupled with a drive to further expand the outstanding student experience offered at Nottingham," said Karen Braithwaite, PhD, director of operations at the veterinary school.

About 2,000 veterinarians are added to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' register in the U.K. every year, but the overall number of registrations has proved insufficient, at least with current rates of retention. The industry estimates there is an 11 percent shortage of veterinarians at present, Dr. Braithwaite said. Measures are underway to boost retention rates in the profession, particularly through the Vet Futures project.

Moreover, data from the British Veterinary Association show that 32 percent of nonnative veterinarians who graduated from veterinary colleges in the European Union are considering a move back home and 18 percent are actively looking for work outside the U.K., indicating Brexit will exacerbate these shortages and providing further incentives for the growth in student numbers.

"Any reduction in the number of vets migrating to the U.K., or an increase in the number leaving the U.K. because of Brexit, will have a destabilizing effect on the veterinary workforce. This will impact on already over stretched staffing levels across the profession, putting at risk animal health, animal welfare, public health and international trade," according to a BVA statement.

The University of Nottingham took in its first class of students in 2006 and was accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2011. It is pursuing accreditation by the AVMA Council on Education. A consultative site visit was held Dec. 3-7, 2017.

"With 300 places, there is potential for us to admit more international students," Dr. Braithwaite said. "We have asked for a comprehensive visitation from the AVMA, which will subject us to attaining accreditation and allow us to welcome American students to Nottingham—and other international students who would value the accreditation statuses we would hold."

The veterinary school will also be increasing its staff, including adding a number of new clinical roles, so that it can continue to maintain small class sizes, according to the University of Nottingham press release.

Related JAVMA content:

UK's newest veterinary school officially open (Dec. 1, 2015)