Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) approval for Veterinary Medicine and Science BVMSci

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) quality assures UK veterinary degrees to make sure that new veterinary surgeons are fit to practise on graduation, and join the RCVS Register. Only those individuals registered with the RCVS can call themselves veterinary surgeons and, with a few exceptions, practise veterinary surgery in the UK.

Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, veterinary degrees must have a ‘recognition order’ from the Privy Council before graduates can automatically be eligible for registration with the RCVS. The Privy Council will take advice from the RCVS on which degrees should be recognised.

The process of recognition for a new veterinary degree takes a number of years, as approval cannot be considered until after the RCVS undertakes a formal inspection of a full course and its standards, once the first cohort of students have completed their degrees. For the University of Surrey, this would be in 2019; all being well, the Privy Council would at that stage grant a recognition order.

The University of Surrey and the RCVS are working closely together to ensure that the new degree meets RCVS requirements and that graduates will be eligible for registration. The RCVS carried out an interim accreditation visit in March 2017, with the first cohort having reached the third year.  The RCVS will visit again in 2018, with one further visit just before the first cohort finishes.

The Veterinary Surgeons Act includes a provision to help ensure that those completing their final exams in an as-yet-unapproved degree may still be allowed to register, in that the Privy Council may invite the RCVS to set examinations for any students attending a non-approved UK veterinary degree course, or alternatively appoint RCVS External Examiners to oversee the standard of the final year examinations. Students who pass the RCVS-controlled examinations would then be able to register with the RCVS and practise as veterinary surgeons in the UK, regardless of the outcome of the degree’s accreditation process.

All of the UK veterinary schools’ degrees are reassessed for approval every seven years. For more information about the process, and the approval criteria, please visit: RCVS website.