Name: Yelin Wong
School: University of Glasgow
Course: Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS)
I’m a final year student in University of Glasgow studying for a degree in Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS). Applications for universities in the UK are typically done in JC2, and for UK universities they use the UCAS system which makes it quite easy for us because you just have to fill in a single application form and write only one personal statement which will be read by all the universities you apply for.
If you are intending to study vet, you can only have a maximum of four choices for your university. There are only 7 universities in the whole of UK offering the veterinary course, so spend some time reading about each of the university, about how the vet school is like, before making your choice. Different universities have different programmes for the five year course; some focusing more on the clinical aspects while others choose to focus on theory for the first 3 years and then do practical for the final 2 years. There may be some proficiency tests you have to take to apply to some of the universities, for example Bristol requires the BMAT (Bio Medical Admissions Test), so make sure you find out about the requirements and apply for the test dates before the deadline, to avoid your application being forfeited.
Glasgow university actually sent 2 staff members down to interview me in December after my A levels, while Edinburgh university had no interview but gave me a conditional offer straight away. The interview with Glasgow vet school was not that bad as they made it rather informal and it turned out to be more of a get-to-know-you session.
There are very few scholarships for vet studies, and one of the more popular ones would be with AVA, which is what I applied for after my A level results were announced. The application process is quite simple and is done online, and if you are short-listed for an interview, they will email you to ask for more documents. The interview panel consists of 5 interviewers, and they ask a whole range of questions including the standard “why do you want to study vet” to “how do you think you can contribute to AVA”. One thing to note is that most of the jobs in AVA are deskbound and so if you want to be a vet that is working in clinics and doing late shifts etc, perhaps consider twice before taking up the scholarship, as you will be bonded for 6 years upon graduation.
For the course itself, Glasgow vet school has 2 years of pre-clinical where you learn the basic anatomy and physiology of animals, as well as biochemistry and animal husbandry. This is followed by 1 year of para-clinical where you start to prepare yourself for the clinical years by learning about pharmacology, parasites, bacteria, viruses and pathology. The 4th and final year of vet school is very much clinical based and you will learn to diagnose the animal and do proper clinical examinations. Final year is almost lecture free and you spend most of your time working in the school’s small animal hospital and rotating in different departments. One thing important to note is that unlike many other courses, you cannot just forget about a particular module once you have completed it, because what you have been taught in first year will come in handy throughout your years in vet school, and so it is very important to have a good foundation right from the start.
Of course, studying overseas alone is an amazing experience. You learn to be really independent and take care of yourself, from cooking your own meals to doing your own laundry and cleaning your own house. And being in UK means that it is very convenient to explore Europe during holidays and get to tour really interesting countries. The scenery in Scotland is just breath-taking, and you just cannot get enough of it. It is also very rich in culture over here and the Scottish people are very proud of who they are and embrace their traditions tightly.
The veterinary course requires you to do quite a substantial number of weeks of attachments during your 5 year course, and this involves working in farms with cows and sheep, seeing how the eggs are being processed in the egg-laying farm etc. Sometimes if you are lucky, you will get to spend easter break helping with the lambing, and that is when you actually get to be up in the hills with all the sheep!
I think vet school is a tough but yet rewarding course for those who are really interested and truly have a passion for it. The school hours are long, with many lectures and practicals in a day, you have to do late night shifts when you are in your final year and sometimes go with only 2 hours of sleep a day. Sadly the dropout rate is quite high, and can be as high as 10% of the class. However, I think diligence and hard work will make up for it, and if you are truly passionate about working with animals then this is a course that will suit you!