Increasing graduate production in the UK

The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) is a grouping of UK veterinary surgeons aiming to support vets working in practice. One of their services is to provide members with an annual salary survey which takes into account the entire salary package paid to employees including: accommodation, vehicle and CPD allowance.

Results of the 2013 survey of 600 vets have recently been released which show a fall in the salaries paid to small animal vets for the second year running. The income of employed small animal vets has fallen by 2.4 per cent since 2010 from a median full-time package of £38,000 to £37,087 this year ($66,000 to $64,500). Meanwhile living costs have risen right across the board making employed vets considerably worse off in real terms. Remuneration in equine practice was static and somewhat improved in mixed and large animal practices, though these are now much smaller employers of veterinary manpower.

The drawback with the SPVS survey is it isn’t known if the survey respondents are the same each year, so making year on year comparisons could be misleading. Despite this SPVS is worried by the findings saying that the figures probably reflect the economic climate in the UK; but also the effect of continuing expansion of veterinary training at established vet schools and that the future opening of new schools will exert further downward pressure on veterinary incomes.

Veterinary graduate over production has long been an issue in European countries like Spain and Germany and is fast becoming a concern in the United States too. Of the 943 students starting veterinary degrees here in 2008, 740 registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) this summer to work in the UK.

In its own survey on the impact of increased graduate numbers on job prospects, published earlier in the year, the RCVS found there hadn’t been much change over the last five years. In 2008 96 per cent of graduates found a job within 6 months of starting to look and this year 94 per cent accomplished the same. How much impact one, two or possibly even three entirely new vet schools will have on veterinary employment and wages in coming years is another matter.

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