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Part-time work wanted as nearly half of vet students say they can’t make ends meet

British Veterinary Association

4 min read Member content

Part-time work for veterinary students is on the rise as almost half (46%) say that they have less money than they need to live on, according to new data from the latest British Veterinary Association (BVA) / Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) Survey 2019.

The findings, which were presented at the annual AVS Congress over the weekend, show that 50% of veterinary students now use part-time work to supplement their total income. This is a significant increase compared with 38% in part-time employment in 2016 and just 25% in 2012. Students in the mid and later years of study are more likely to have a part-time job to supplement their income that those in earlier years. 

When it comes to living expenses, vet students report an average shortfall of £2000 per year.

These financial worries are contributing to mental health and wellbeing concerns. Fewer than one in five students (18%) say that they haven’t suffered from any mental health issues at university. Those who have report feeling overwhelmed (68%), experiencing anxiety (52%) and depression (35%). The main triggers or contributing factors are their studies (78%), lack of free time (57%), and financial worries (44%).

Students were asked which area they saw themselves working in after graduation. Overall more than four out of five vet students (85%) say that they intend to go into a role in clinical practice (increasing from 79% in the 1st year to 90% in the final year). 78% of students feel their course is preparing them for their future careers. When they think about their first job, for an overwhelming large majority, the graduate support offering (43%) or type of practice (28%) are the most important elements.

As the RCVS Graduate Outcomes review is ongoing, student views on Extra Mural Studies (EMS) are particularly pertinent. Hands on experience is the top priority for vet students when choosing their placements and cost is the biggest barrier with 37% of all students pinpointing this. Overall, a large majority (84%) agree that EMS enables them to explore a broad range of careers in veterinary medicine.

Commenting on the results, Katie Roberts, AVS President, said:

“I’m really pleased that we’ve got an up-to-date overview of the thoughts, concerns and aspirations of our membership population. Our new comprehensive data set on the mental health and welfare concerns of our students is concerning, as are the number of students facing financial concerns during their degree. However, such shocking findings will provide us with really strong, quantitative support when we work to tackle these issues over the coming months. 

EMS has once again come up as a popular topic of discussion. I’m hopeful that such a large collection of student views will be well received by the ongoing RCVS Graduate Outcomes review and will go a long way towards giving students a strong voice in this review. 

Thank you so much to those who took the time to fill out the survey - this data will go a long way to supporting our ability to represent, support and engage the student population over the next four years.” 

BVA President, Daniella Dos Santos said:

“This survey is a really important snapshot of veterinary student life today. High levels of mental health concerns and funding gaps continue to be a significant worry and it’s essential that both the vet schools and the wider veterinary community provide as much support as possible. We’ll be sharing the results with the vet schools to help them help their students.

“The increasing pressure to work part-time to makes ends meet is a stark reminder that a vet degree can be really expensive. This isn’t only a concern for current vet students who are facing financial hardship but it’s also a significant barrier to widening participation to students from non-traditional backgrounds. It’s an issue that BVA is working on with AVS, RCVS and the Vet Schools Council.”

There are just over 6,500 undergraduate students across the nine vet schools in the UK and Ireland. Now in its eighth year, the survey is jointly conducted by AVS and BVA every three years with kind sponsorship from Vets4Pets. It gathers opinions of veterinary students with the aim of better understanding the needs of today’s vet students and look at current trends.


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