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6 August 2012
The future of veterinary medicine could be jeopardised by the poor pay and conditions that post-graduate vets receive when they attend the seven UK veterinary schools, a new survey by Unite has revealed.
The crux of the problem is that the schools don't regard the 250 post-graduate junior vets as employees – even though they are treating animals while on their courses.
Unite, the largest union in the country that embraces the British Veterinary Union (BVU), calls for this exploitation to end and that the post-graduate vets are enrolled as employees with the accompanying employment rights.
Liverpool University appeared to be the best place for post-graduate clinical studies, while the Royal Veterinary College, London performed poorly. The other schools are at Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Nottingham.
Dr Shams Mir, Chairman, Professional Advisory Committee, BVU in Unite said:
“The issue at the heart of this problem is the deliberate avoidance by the universities to recognise these programmes as work-based programmes and failure to enrol the junior vets as employees.
“The problem is further compounded by the massive disparity in the terms and conditions of these appointments amongst universities – a junior vet in London could be living on as little as £14,000-a-year in one of the world's most expensive cities.
“It is understood that the universities do this for cost cutting reasons by avoiding employment related tax implications. There is no ethical or legal justification for this approach.
“Becoming a vet is a popular career choice and the degrees take five-to-six years to complete and then there is the post-graduate work which hone their skills in such disciplines as cardiology and neurology.
“The future of veterinary medicine could be jeopardised by the negative attitudes being displayed by the veterinary schools that will put off the brightest and the best – many of whom are in their late twenties with families.”
(The junior vets are registered as interns, junior clinical training scholars and senior clinical training scholars.)
Key findings include: