The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) council will “temporarily suspend” requirements for veterinary students and degree programmes regarding extra-mural studies (EMS) amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Students would typically be required to complete a minimum of 38 weeks of EMS through their degree programme to gain real-life work experience and “enhance” studies.
However, following a teleconference with Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) members last week, proposals were put to the council who later approved the suspension.
The college said that it recognises it should “not be compulsory” for students to complete EMS over the next eight-week period, after which “the situation would be reviewed”.
It also acknowledged that it would be “difficult” for final-year students to make up any missing EMS prior to graduation.
It urged vet schools to “continue to support students and explore alternatives” for final-year students’ EMS placements.
The college also said it expects there to be “sufficient time” to complete EMS requirements for students in years one to four of their studies.
In a statement, RCVS president Dr Connell said: “Extra-Mural Studies (EMS) are an important and valued part of the veterinary programme, and all students are required to complete a total of 38 weeks across the full programme.
“However, the health and safety of students and staff are paramount, and we are aware that a number of restrictions are being put in place at this time to ensure their safety and minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.”
The current measures will be subject to further review or extension “depending upon the prevailing situation” with the COVID-19 pandemic.