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Drive to increase diversity of veterinary profession

Press release issued: 14 May 2008

The veterinary profession has launched new careers materials in a bid to broaden the range of applicants to veterinary school.

The veterinary profession has launched new careers materials in a bid to broaden the range of applicants to veterinary school.

Under the theme ‘Veterinary Science… for all walks of life’, the new DVD and brochure demonstrate that vets can come from a variety of backgrounds. They explore the diversity of career opportunities available, as exemplified by Head of Veterinary Services at Bristol Zoo Gardens, Sharon Redrobe, small animal practitioner Sanjay Mangabhai, and TV vet Steve Leonard.

The materials were produced as part of the Government's Gateways to the Professions project. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and six out of the seven UK veterinary schools, including Bristol University, matched funding from the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The current profile of the veterinary profession is 98 per cent white, with a growing proportion of women: 79 per cent of those admitted to veterinary school last year are female. In addition, it has traditionally been seen as a profession for those from the higher socioeconomic groups. An increasingly homogenised profession may mean the UK is missing out on some potentially excellent vets. It is hoped that the new materials will attract those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, those without professionals in the family, and boys.

Modular in approach, the DVD features vets working in small animal, large animal and equine practice, a zoo, government service, the army, research, academia and commerce.  Viewers will also hear from students about what life is really like on one of the most challenging courses around.

Chairman of the project’s steering group and Professor of Veterinary Medicine at Bristol University, Phillip Duffus, believes that the veterinary profession’s role in wider society is becoming more important: “With a growing number of diseases that can be passed from animals to humans, the potential of bioterrorism, and global climate change placing many animal species under threat, veterinary scientists are taking a more central role,” he said.

“Veterinary graduates develop skills that are of potential benefit to the population at large, not just animal owners. We hope to attract a broad base of applications to veterinary school so that the profession can benefit from the best talent available.”

Bill Rammell MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, commented: "I welcome this new DVD and brochure developed by the RCVS and its partners to encourage diversity within the veterinary profession. This is exactly the sort of project which we are looking to encourage through our recently-launched High Level Skills Strategy consultation, which highlighted the importance of improving information, advice and guidance.” 

He added: “The project was one of a number funded through the Gateways to the Professions Development fund, which aimed to improve access to graduate jobs in the professions for people from a wider range of backgrounds. Over two years we have funded 24 projects to the tune of over £4 million."

The DVD and brochures will be sent to every secondary school in the UK, towards the end of May. An e-brochure, which incorporates the DVD modules, is available online at


Further information

The Gateways to the Professions project partners include: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; School of Veterinary Science, University of Bristol; Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge; Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow; Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Liverpool; Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons; Royal Veterinary College, University of London and School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham.

The project was part-funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
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