Gateways to the Profession - DfES Consultation Launched

6 January 2005

The veterinary profession has been chosen as one of six professions to be the subject of a case study for the "Gateways to the Profession" report being prepared by Sir Alan Langlands, at the request of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

A consultation on the project is being launched by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) on 10 January, and contributions to the consultation will be welcomed from 11 January to 18 March 2005 through the DfES website.

Following Royal Assent of the Higher Education Act in summer 2004, the then Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Charles Clarke, commissioned an independent report to examine the gateways into the professions. He asked Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of Dundee University to lead this work.

The report will make recommendations to Ministers on action that can be taken by employing organisations to provide clear accessible gateways for all graduates who want to pursue a career in the professions. This work is being supported by Public and Private Sector Reference Groups, on which the RCVS is represented, and by a wide range of stakeholders.

During the consultation period for the Higher Education Act, the RCVS expressed concerns to the Department, and to the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Skills, at the likely effect of increased tuition fees for veterinary undergraduates. 

Although the new Act will enable undergraduates to defer any payment of fees until after they graduate instead of having to pay up-front as now, it is felt that the increasing level of graduate debt (which is already high as reported in the BVA and Association of Veterinary Students surveys) could deter many graduates from chosing to enter the less well paid sectors of the profession - in rural areas, farm animal practice and research. 

It could also act as a disincentive for able students from a wide range of backgrounds to apply to veterinary school, at a time when we are already seeing a decline in the number of veterinary school applications from UK based students. It is therefore encouraging that Sir Alan has chosen to include the veterinary profession in his report, and the RCVS will be seeking to ensure that the position of veterinary students and graduates is recognised.

The DfES consultation will provide an opportunity for members of the profession to contribute further to the ongoing debate. The report is due to the Secretary of State mid-2005 and responses to the consultation will be fed into the final report.

If you wish to contribute to the DfES consultation, please visit the DfES website.  (You may, if you wish, also send a copy of your comments to Mrs Freda Andrews, Head of Education, RCVS, Belgravia House, 62-64 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF, or email it to f.andrews@rcvs.org.uk).

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