RCVS Council amends temporary policy on recognition of European vet schools

At its meeting on Thursday 18 January 2024, members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council voted to amend a temporary policy on the recognition of European veterinary degrees, in order to give a firm deadline for finding alternative approaches for recognition.

While the UK was part of the European Union (EU), all EU veterinary degrees were automatically recognised by the RCVS as part of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive.

However, since 2019, the RCVS has operated a policy that states that, following the UK’s exit from the EU, the RCVS would temporarily recognise those veterinary degrees accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE), with the caveat that this policy would be reviewed annually at every January RCVS Council meeting. The temporary policy was developed in recognition of the fact that a large proportion of those joining the UK Register of Veterinary Surgeons each year (both before and after the UK left the EU) were graduates from EU vet schools, and therefore needed to take account of considerations over both educational standards and ensuring an adequate veterinary workforce.

While the policy had been extended in previous years, at this year’s meeting RCVS Council members raised concerns over possible divergence between the College’s accreditation standards for veterinary education, and those of EAEVE. This is particularly the case since the RCVS carried out a comprehensive review of its standards and methodology for accreditation and agreed a new approach in 2022, implemented from January 2023.

Following discussions during the meeting, an amendment was put forward by RCVS Council member Will Wilkinson, which said that the temporary decision to recognise veterinary graduates from EAEVE-accredited schools should be allowed to continue for a maximum of five years with no further extension beyond this time, and that this extension would continue to be reviewed annually by Council and may be terminated sooner. The amendment was carried by a majority vote.

Dr Kate Richards MRCVS, Chair of the Education Committee, said: “Thank you to members of RCVS Council for their consideration of how we resolve this issue in the long term, as this is a temporary policy that we brought in to mitigate some of the immediate impacts of leaving the EU and the end of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications regime.

“The Education Committee understands Council members’ concerns over divergence of standards, particularly as the RCVS is taking such a world-leading role in developing an outcomes-focused approach to accreditation standards, ensuring that we are leading the way in international best practice and driving forward innovation and quality improvement in veterinary education.

“The decision made at RCVS Council sets a firm deadline for the end of this temporary policy, while giving sufficient time to work up proposals for alternative approaches, such as direct accreditation of individual European vet schools. Furthermore, the amended policy would allow any students currently enrolled in an EAEVE-accredited vet school who may be expecting to be able to register in the UK, to prepare accordingly.”

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