An important role of the veterinary profession is to support the health and welfare of all animals in their care – and essential parts of these include the following.
- All veterinary students must be trained in the husbandry and medicine of mammals and birds raised for food, as well as acquiring an understanding of the structure and processes of relevant parts of the food industry. Applicants for UK veterinary courses should be aware that participation in these elements of the veterinary course is compulsory at all UK veterinary schools. For example, the RCVS Standards and Guidance for the Accreditation of Veterinary Degree Programmes stipulate that the core veterinary curriculum must include visits to abattoirs.
- Animals are used in biomedical research, and in the UK this is regulated by the Home Office. All veterinary students must have an understanding of the framework under which scientific procedures are carried out on animals, and have familiarity with the husbandry and medicine of species commonly used in research. However, there is currently no requirement to engage in practical work in a setting where such procedures are taking place.
- Euthanasia is an essential part of ensuring the welfare of the animals in the care of veterinary surgeons. Because of this, it is compulsory for all veterinary students to understand the principles and practice of methods of euthanasia, and as part of the course all students will be present in settings where euthanasia is taking place, and may be asked to assist.
You should be aware that while religious expression and ethical veganism are considered protected characteristics under the Equality Act, and legal exemptions will be taken into account, the Act does not provide a requirement to compromise competence standards in respect of any protected characteristic.
We do of course welcome debate about the ethical, economic and environmental dimensions of raising animals for scientific research or to produce food, but that does not remove the requirement for veterinary students to complete all elements of the course. All values and beliefs are respected at UK veterinary schools, and the schools continue to work with the regulator about how learning experiences can be developed in the future.