In September 2005, the Royal Veterinary College welcomed the first group of students on the Widening Participation Gateway course which has been a huge success. The Gateway course is the first year of an extended six-year veterinary degree programme, created for students who are part of our UK widening articipation cohort.1 It is designed to widen the opportunities to students who went to a non-selective state school, were eligible to receive the education maintenanc eallowance (EMA) and who's parents have not been to university.
Successful completion of the programme does not give a qualification in itself, but does lead on to a guaranteed place on our five year BVetMed programme. We are also now able to offer students the chance to study for their veterinary degree elsewhere. The Universities of Liverpool, Bristol and, as of last year, Glasgow will guarantee an interview for a place on a five year clinical veterinary degree. In September 2009, 34 students joined the current Gateway year and have all passed their first in course assessment. Feedback from students is already very positive.
"The lectures have been structured very well, and the pace has always been just right. Very amazing course and would not be here without it!" Gateway student
Students who have passed the year are now in a variety of different places. The majority are in Years 1, 2 and 3 of the BVetMed. Some are at Bristol University and some at Liverpool, and a few are spending the year intercalating with a BSc in another discipline. Two students from the original intake have returned to the RVC having successfully graduated with a BSc biomedical sciences & infection from University College London and from University of Liverpool with a BSc veterinary conservation medicine. This year, even more students have shown an interest in intercalation and are applying right now for courses around the country.
The first group of students are now in Year four at the RVC. They have been visiting practices and farms to observe and learn from practitioners. They need to complete 26 weeks of extra mural studies (EMS) over the last three years of the course and have become ambassadors for the Gateway programme across the country. As they spend time with vets, vet nurses (and sometimes secondary students), doing work experience, they are spreading the message that it is possible to get into vet school from a non traditional route and succeed whilst you are there.
Stephanie Edwards is one of those students who is in her fourth year of the VetMed course at the RVC. She has excelled in the degree, receiving merits in all years and a distinction in Year 3 of the BVetMed, and tells her story.
I achieved average GCSE grades and A levels and when applying to universities or veterinary degrees I got straight rejections. My options were limited but I was determined to achieve my goals so I returned to school tor esit my A levels and, upon my return, the new Gateway course was brought to my attention. I fulfilled the requirements for entry so applied and, after a successful interview, was given an unconditional offer. I found the Gateway year an excellent opportunity to integrate into a new environment and develop my learning skills and also to make some close friends within the 20-something sized group. Having not come from a farming background I had little experience handling large animals and found that the structured animal husbandry classes we were given during the Gateway year gave me more confidence. When doing practical lessons, EMS and SCE exams on the BVetMed course I felt I was not behind in this area. I believe it helped me develop a good work ethic and basic practical skills to build on later on the course, and this has enabled me to progress well with the degree. I have a favourite EMS placement with a farm practice locally which I continue to return to. They have helped me build on the theory and improvemy practical skills in an area of the profession which I take a deeper interest in and intend to progress into a career in large animal practice after graduation.
"Steph has now done two periods of EMS with MacPherson O'Sullivan Ltd, a farm animal practice based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.We were the first EMS she had undertaken where we have done a lot of routine fertility work with her, some perations and some clinical work. I have been very impressed with her grasp of the practical work we have undertaken, her keenness to learn and to participate in our day to day work. Her knowledge is good and she would seem to have an aptitude for this side of veterinary practice. Her practical ability I would put above most of the students I have dealt with in the past for where she has got in the course so far. As a Gateway entrance student, I would have no qualms about her and at present would rate her beyond normal entrance students I have helped to train on EMS."
RodWood. BVSc,MRCVS.MacPherson O'Sullivan Ltd
When the RVC first developed the Gateway course Professor Lance Lanyon, then Principal of the RVC, said:
"The veterinary profession has long been recognised as one of the most difficult to enter. The odds are stacked against young people from the inner cities who do not have easy access to animal experience, and who often attend schoolsw here students do not outinely achieve the high A-gradesr equired. The Gateway Programme will help the veterinary profession to become more representative of the society it serves."
Our original Gateway entry will be applying for their first jobs in one year's time, and we know that they will be just the first cohort of successful vets who found a way into vet school that accounted for their circumstances.
For more information: email@example.com