The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has clarified its role with regard to new UK veterinary schools, by saying that it has no mandate to control student or graduate numbers.


Responding to calls from the profession that it should comment on the desirability, or otherwise, of any change in the number of schools or graduates, the College has confirmed in a position statement that it is committed to setting, upholding and advancing the standards that any new UK veterinary degrees would need to meet in order to be approved by the Privy Council, but that it has no role in capping student numbers.


Furthermore, the free market and mobility of workers in the EU makes any control at the level of a sovereign state effectively meaningless with respect to workforce management. However, the College is committed to ensuring that standards are maintained, and to continue working with bodies such as the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education, which evaluates veterinary degrees across Europe.


The College also seeks to support healthy debate through providing information on the state of the profession - a good example of which is the survey that it recently commissioned from the Institute for Employment Studies on job availability for veterinary graduates over the last five years.


The headline results from that survey were released in the summer, and showed that increasing graduate numbers over the last five years have so far appeared to have had little impact on veterinary job prospects, with 94% of graduate respondents seeking a role in clinical practice obtaining work within six months of starting to look.


The full RCVS Survey of Recent Graduates report is now available, and also shows that, of the 43% of veterinary surgeons who graduated in the last five years who responded:

  • The average time taken to complete the Professional Development Phase is 16.3 months
  • 76% of new graduates started seeking work as soon as they graduated
  • The average time taken for recent graduates to find their first veterinary position was 2.7 months
  • 92% of first roles were in clinical practice, of which 53% were in small animal practice, 27% mixed, 10% farm animal and 9% equine
  • 58% of first clinical roles were within RCVS accredited practices, although only 16% sought this
  • Only 34% felt this first role met all of their needs; the most commonly-cited, as well as the most importantly-rated, reason for dissatisfaction with first jobs was 'I did not receive enough professional support from my employers and colleagues'
  • 55% of first jobs were in the graduate's preferred location
  • Of the 43% who had already left their first jobs, the most commonly-cited reason was 'poor management'
  • For 13% of graduate respondents, their first role came to an end because it was a temporary position. This figure ranged from 9% in 2009 to 21% in 2012.


The answers were analysed by year of graduation, veterinary school, age and gender, and the full report is available online at>.


The full position statement regarding the RCVS role in accrediting new veterinary schools is available from>.