Educating the Veterinary Students of Tomorrow

Post Graduate Entry

One method of entry into studying veterinary is post-graduate.There are many different reasons why people take this route but you'd be surprised at how many people do.There are many benefits of having a previous degree, you will be a lot more prepared for the standard of work and the life changes at university as well as being a bit older and more mature (though not necessarily!). Depending on the degree you have previously done there are different ways that the universities accept post graduates. If you have done a relevant course you may be able to do an accelerated degree (4 years) or if it is unrelated you may have to do a foundation year. One of the main factors to consider is funding a post graduate degree. There are grants and bursaries in place to help so don't rule it out! veterinary medicine

Personal experiences from Post-Graduate students​

Applying to vet school as a postgraduate can be a daunting process, and there are a few aspects to think about. Firstly, making the decision to send an application at all involves a lot more soul-searching. This was definitely the case for me personally. The final year of your first degree is an exciting time, you are so close to graduating and the end is in sight but at the same time the workload intensifies and the pressure is on to meet deadlines and achieve. It is during this stressful time that you must make the potentially life changing choice to sign yourself up for another 4-5 years of study (if you want to start the year after you graduate). The thoughts running through my head before I applied included whether I could cope with another 5 years of hard work, the age I would be when I finally qualified as a vet and, of course, how I was going to find the funds to get me through.  It can sometimes be difficult to see friends your age moving on with their lives when you are still at university chained to your desk! However, it is also very important to have the support of friends and family when you are thinking about applying and for the duration of the course, if you are anything like me you will rely heavily on good advice and free food from your long suffering family in the years to come.

Funding is one of the main worries for me as a postgraduate and it is something you need to bear in mind. The fees can vary between universities but the minimum you will pay a year is £9000 – that’s £45000 in total to find and unfortunately student finance will not grant you a tuition fee loan after your first degree. You will be entitled to the maintenance loan due to the fact that the course leads to a professional qualification, which is a massive help. I deferred my entry onto the course for a year when I got my offer (not all universities will allow you to do this) so that I could work full time – this was essential for me to raise the money I needed. I also needed to continue this job at the weekends for the first 3 years of my veterinary degree, which wasn’t ideal on top of the already extreme workload of the course, but I managed.

The application process itself is very similar to the one that undergraduates must go through. You still need work experience with different animal species and you will still be invited to interview. The interview itself is no different for postgraduates and in fact none of the interviewers even knew that I had a degree when I attended. If you are successful most universities will require you to attain at least a 2:1 for entry onto the course. However, it is still possible to be rejected even if you have a 1st class degree. Don’t expect to automatically get a place, I was rejected without interview from 2 of my choices.

There are benefits of being a postgraduate applicant in that you are  (slightly…) older and wiser and if you make the decision to go for it then it has usually been very carefully considered. You will have experience of the level of work expected at university, this will make it easier for you rather than having to adjust quickly like many new undergraduates.

When I finished my A-levels I was undecided about my future and it took me 3 years of studying around the subject to realise what I really wanted. For those that didn’t quite get the grades or were simply undecided at that point it is still possible to get into veterinary through this route. In my opinion, it takes a lot more determination and hard work to do it the long way round, if you make it you have really earned your career. For me, that will make it so much more worth it when I finally graduate. It is a personal journey for every individual but I am happy with the choice I made and have no regrets. If none of the above has put you off and you are still considering applying as a postgraduate then I wish you the very best of luck.

I made my decision to pursue veterinary medicine in the summer between my 2nd and 3rd year studying at The University of Edinburgh, having put together my fascination with medicine with my love for animals. Once the decision was made it soon became clear just how challenging it is to secure a place in vet school. The majority of my spare time was taken up with gaining work experience while studying for my exams and applying for different vet schools. Once I secured a place the next task was to raise tuition fees, I was lucky enough to receive loans from the Student Awards Agency of Scotland, combined with savings and summer/lambing earnings to cover the annual fees. Coming into vet school at 23, I was expecting to be an outsider with my nose in the books for 5 years and my eye on the long term goal, however nothing could be further from the truth. I was genuinely shocked by the warm welcome I received coming to vet school, by students of all ages, it has been nothing short of a pleasure to be studying here. My prior degree helped me somewhat during my first few years when covering basic science, however I honoured in Pharmacology which has not proved to be as helpful as I had hoped. Do not be put off by the difficulty that surrounds the course, although the volume of content is considerable, the concepts themselves are not incomprehensible, and with a good work ethic it is far from impossible. 

​To those students thinking of applying as a postgrad I would say; gather a good portfolio of work experience with references, study to obtain the best grades possible and persevere, it will all be worth it in the end!​​