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With university tuition fees in England set to rise from next year, veterinary graduates could soon be starting their careers with debts of £50,000 or more. Will this price be worth paying, and will their education meet their needs? Kathryn Clark reports on a ‘contentious issues’ debate held at the BVA Congress in London on September 24
THERE is a need to redefine veterinary education to better meet the needs of graduates, according to Alex Corbishley, a recent graduate himself who is now working in farm animal practice.
Mr Corbishley, one of two speakers in the debate, noted that only about 10 per cent of respondents to an RCVS survey of the veterinary profession conducted in 2010 agreed or strongly agreed that newly qualified vets had the necessary skills. Veterinary education, he believed, had to focus on the preparedness and future productivity of new graduates rather than simply on numbers. Education, he argued, should be more than internet repositories of notes for students to read at their leisure, or online databases of technical tasks undertaken, or requiring students to watch operations that they were not going to undertake in the first 12 months after graduating – and might never undertake.
Veterinary education needed to recognise the importance of mentoring: ‘It takes no effort to tell a student to read a book or to watch what you're doing, but it does take time, skill, patience and a huge amount of emotional commitment to impart perspective, experience and skills – all things that cannot be learned in a textbook,’ he said.
Once students were paying £9000 per year in tuition fees, they would not tolerate poor-quality teaching, and …