The government recognises the importance of ensuring there are sufficient skilled graduates to meet industry demand. We are working with different veterinary sector stakeholders, to look at ways of increasing veterinary school capacity and the number of graduates in all UK vet schools going forward.
The government also subsidises the costs of teaching high-cost subjects such as veterinary medicine, where tuition fee income does not meet the costs of teaching. This is supported through the teaching grant allocated annually to providers via the Office for Students.
In 2018/19, the recurrent teaching grant provided by the government totals £1,290 million, of which £681 million is specifically targeted at supporting high-cost subjects, including veterinary science. This is currently around £10,000 per veterinary science student.
English higher education providers are autonomous institutions. Their institutional autonomy, which includes decisions as to what they teach, is protected by the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.
However, the lifting of student number controls in 2015/16 means that there is no longer an artificial cap on the numbers of students that higher education providers are able to recruit, including for veterinary science courses.
There has been progress in the sector in increasing places for veterinary students. The first cohort of students to graduate with the University of Surrey's new veterinary degree is scheduled for July 2019, thereby bringing more domestically trained vets in to the profession. Alongside this, the new Harper and Keele Veterinary School will be commencing its new 5 year degree course in 2020.