Welsh summer school scheme bids to inspire vets of future

27th July 2023
Industry News

A new initiative that it is hoped will help to inspire the vets of the future has been launched in Wales.

Dozens of young people have taken part in a four-day summer school programme at Aberystwyth University, as part of a broader partnership between the higher education sector and the Welsh Government.

The project has been warmly welcomed by sector leaders as the profession continues to grapple with its workforce challenges.

Aberystwyth lecturer Gwenllian Rees, who was appointed as the BVA’s new Welsh branch president last month, said: “I wish this had been possible when I was a school pupil in Llanelli, hoping to one day become a vet.”

The inaugural Veterinary Seren Summer School, held at Aberystwyth’s Veterinary Education Centre, was designed for secondary school pupils who have already expressed an interest in pursuing a veterinary degree programme.

Unique sessions

The course included sessions on animal clinical skills, and visits to the University’s Trawsgoed farm and equine centre, as well as a nearby practice.

Dr Rees said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer these unique taster sessions to young people from Wales who are interested in pursuing a degree, then a career as a vet.

“Our aim is to allow future vets to experience life as a vet student, with lots of practical sessions with the animals at our excellent farm and equine facilities, as well as lectures and anatomy teaching.”

The course is one of two summer school programmes taking place at Aberystwyth this year as part of the Welsh Government’s Seren programme, which aims to help young people access higher education regardless of their background.

Cooperation agreement

The scheme was developed under the terms of the cooperation agreement drawn up between Labour and Plaid Cymru following the last Senedd elections in 2021.

Education and Welsh Language minister Jeremy Miles said: “I’m particularly excited that we are able to support the first veterinary science summer school, which includes valuable hands-on experience for our potential vets of the future.

“Seren’s summer school programmes offer outstanding opportunities for Welsh learners by giving them the experience of university life and super curricular activities in their chosen field of study.”

Plaid Cymru designated member Sian Gwenllian added: “Increasing awareness and opportunities to study at Welsh universities will make a difference to learners and to the future of Wales.”

But the course has been delivered at a time of unease within the veterinary sector because of both current workforce pressures and concern over education funding.

Financial support

During the BVA’s Welsh dinner in Cardiff last month, president Malcolm Morley pleaded for greater financial support of Aberystwyth, the home of Wales’ only vet school, and warned of the danger of “chronic underfunding” threatening the quality and delivery of courses right across the UK.

But Wales’ chief veterinary officer Richard Irvine said it was “fantastic” that would-be vets were being given a taste of the sector through the Seren scheme.

He said: “Vets have a key role in ensuring animals are healthy and have a good quality of life, and the veterinary profession offers a variety of exciting career opportunities.

“It is really important for secondary school learners to be able to gain valuable experience about studying to be a vet, and the opportunities that are then available.”

First cohort

The course also took place ahead of a celebration event on 24 July marking two years since the first cohort of veterinary degree students began work in Aberystwyth.

The university delivers degree programmes in partnership with the RVC. Students spend their first two years at Aberystwyth before heading to the RVC’s Hawkshead campus in Hertfordshire, though many do return to Wales to undertake placements.


Credit to:  Welsh summer school scheme bids to inspire vets of future (Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2023).  Welsh summer school scheme bids to inspire vets of future [online]

Available at:  https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/welsh-summer-school-scheme-bids-to-inspire-vets-of-future/