Fifty young people from low and middle income backgrounds will gain a unique opportunity to learn what it takes to become a vet and prepare to apply to a veterinary school, as the Royal Veterinary College joins the Sutton Trust summer school programme.

Interest in becoming a vet is growing among young people, inspired by TV vet Mark Evans’s programmes, in particular Inside Nature’s Giants on Channel 4, and by Ben Fogle’s Animal Clinic on Channel 5.

The College joins nine other leading UK universities in providing 1900 summer school places this year, as the programme benefits from a generous new grant from Barclays. The three year grant of £750,000 to the summer school programme is part of 5 Million Young Futures, Barclays’ commitment to invest in community programmes that enhance the enterprise, employability and financial skills of five million young people aged 10 to 35, by 2015.

With veterinary life being one of the most popular career choices for bright young people, veterinary courses are notoriously competitive and require top A level grades (or highest levels of equivalent courses) in some of the most demanding subjects, including Chemistry, for entry.

The Royal Veterinary College offers 170 places in Veterinary Medicine each year. Around 1,500 applicants apply for 664 places at only seven veterinary schools in the UK each year.

Young people need more than good grades to win a place. Well-crafted personal statements, exceptional results in The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT), proof of work experience and good interview technique can all play to a candidate’s advantage. For young people from schools with low progression rates to higher education and from families who have limited knowledge of university life, access to good advice and contacts can be tough.

The 50 successful applicants to the RVC summer school this year will benefit from a week-long residential course with all expenses covered. An academic programme will focus on Bioveterinary Sciences, Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Nursing taught entirely by full-time academic staff.

As well as practical dissections and clinical skills there will also be farm-based sessions and laboratory periods. The participants will also be given sessions on the application process and interviews. The academic staff will be supported by student ambassadors from the college who will be ready to help the summer school students feel welcome. There is also a good social programme.

Typically earning in excess of £50,000 in senior veterinary surgeon positions, a career as a vet is a route to social mobility for many bright young people. The average veterinary surgeon’s starting salary is around £21,800 and £33,500 a year, depending on experience.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today: “I’m delighted that the Royal Veterinary College has joined the Sutton Trust UK summer school programme. Veterinary courses are highly competitive, but it is vital that young people from low and middle income backgrounds have a fair chance to access them.

“Veterinary life is an attractive career choice for many bright young people, not just for the interest and variety of the work but also for the earning opportunities. The 50 students who enrol at the Royal Veterinary College this year will be given the best opportunity to prepare for university courses through our highly successful summer school model.”

Professor Stuart Reid, Principal at the Royal Veterinary College, said today:

“For many years the Royal Veterinary College has been focused on widening access to veterinary education to the most able students regardless of their background. The Sutton Trust has a long and successful tradition of supporting under-privileged students into higher education and we are proud to be working with the Trust’s summer school programme.

“We hope that the summer school will demonstrate the broad range of exciting opportunities available to students with an interest in veterinary science and encourage more students from non-traditional backgrounds to consider a veterinary career.”

Sutton Trust UK summer schools, now in their seventeenth year, run at 10 universities and this summer will offer 1,900 places, up from 1,700 in 2013. The Trust is also developing a series of extension activities to complement the summer schools, including follow up e-mentoring support, help with UCAS personal statements and summer schools for teachers.

The Sutton Trust summer school programme is also supported by the Wolfson Foundation which co-sponsors the summer schools at University College London and Durham, as well as supporting the programme’s e-mentoring initiative and teacher summer schools. The Garfield Weston Foundation supports summer school students in Wales, Northern Ireland and the North East of England.

Young people interested in applying to Sutton Trust summer schools can find more information at


1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 140 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.

2. The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK’s largest and longest established veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London. The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing and is ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences.  It is the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.

A research-led institution, the RVC ranked as the top veterinary school in the Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science unit of the most recent Research Assessment Exercise with 55% of academics producing ‘world class’ and ‘internationally excellent’ research. The College also provides support for the veterinary profession through its three referral hospitals including the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, Europe’s largest small animal hospital, which sees more than 8,000 patients each year.

3. The Royal Veterinary College is one of only eight higher education institutions offering veterinary courses in England/UK in 2014, including a new course at Surrey from September 2014.

4. The Sutton Trust has run summer schools in the UK since 1997. Summer schools offer young people from low and middle income backgrounds in year 12 – typically 17 year-olds – a chance to get a taste of student life at a research-led university and make strong applications. The programme balances busy academic days with social activities and has been successful in encouraging bright state school students from low and middle income families to study at the most selective universities in Britain. The summer schools will also take place in 2014 at Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial, King’s College London, Nottingham, St Andrews, University College London.

5. The Trust has commissioned Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) to evaluate the summer school programme over the next three years, building on the last evaluation from Bristol University (

6. The Sutton Trust also runs in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission a US summer school programme at Yale, MIT and Harvard, giving 175 Year 12 students in 2014 the chance to experience.

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