Veterinary

46% of vet students failing to make ends meet, study suggests

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 BVA and 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. 

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BVA said 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 than those in earlier years. 

When it comes to living expenses, vet students report an average shortfall of £2,000 per year.

The BVA said 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 reported 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). 

Some 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.

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.”

She added: “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.”

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