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Graduate Employment
Employment debate considers pressures on EMS and teaching quality

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WILL increasing numbers of veterinary students in the UK have a detrimental effect on the availability of EMS (extramural studies) placements and the quality of veterinary teaching?

These, among other questions, were considered during a discussion forum organised by the BVA on October 23, entitled ‘What lies ahead for recent and future veterinary graduates?’. Introducing the discussions, Peter Harlech Jones, the BVA past-president, said that there had been concerns raised among some in the profession about the increasing number of vet students being trained in the UK, and what this might mean for employment prospects, salaries, EMS placement availability and the quality of teaching staff. However, before the BVA could adopt a policy it needed to be clear of what the facts were – and the purpose of the forum was to be a starting point for this fact-finding aim.

Figure 1

Some of the speakers in the BVA's discussion forum on what lies ahead for recent and future graduates. (clockwise from top left): Jill Maddison, James Wood, Alex McGhee and Stuart Reid

Teaching

James Wood, head of the University of Cambridge veterinary school, described the challenge of finding enough teaching staff to educate UK veterinary students. He felt that the issue was that not enough people were being trained to educate vets rather than a complete absence of potential quality teaching staff.

Recruitment was a challenge, but retaining staff was also an issue. With salaries for academics and those in referral positions diverging considerably, many talented clinicians were choosing the referral route over academia, he said. If the salary scales were more equitable, this could help to retain staff and also raise the standing of academics so they felt they were gaining professional esteem by staying in academia. The value of a career in education/academia needed to be raised, otherwise vets …

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