Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The ever growing cost of becoming a vet

Mildren the chicken walks the fence. One of the nice things about visiting the English countryside is the number of pet chickens around. Mildred, with her cohabitants Storm and Buttercup, produces enough eggs for two families and enjoys a fantastic life. And might I add that she is a mighty fine looking chicken.

The cost of veterinary degrees in Australia will increase massively under the Abbot Government, according to this article in The Sydney Morning Herald by Matthew Knott.

He cites financial modelling by the AVA. For those who don’t know, the current veterinary degree costs just over $57K to local students and the AVA estimates it takes the typical graduate around 22 years to pay off, with total debt paid nudging $102K (may not sound like much, but try applying for a home loan with that amount of debt).

That figure could escalate to over $185K if universities choose to recover funding costs – and really, not sure how else they can survive. That will take around 28 years to repay which seems insane – six years training followed by three decades to pay it off. If you’re female and take the average five years off to have children, you’re really in trouble…the figure could climb to over $270K and the time to pay off would be closer to forty years.

It’s a financial disincentive to become a vet, unless you happen to be an heiress or Bill Gates (and last time I checked, Bill G was busy with the Bill and Melinda GatesFoundation).

Another concern is the animal welfare implications. Increased costs of veterinary study may impact the consumers. It makes the whole exercise of being a vet more expensive, and some of this cost may be passed onto clients.

The problem of student fees is not new, of course, but they’re increasing exponentially. Its not necessarily better overseas. I met a US-based student who was doing her veterinary degree in a State other than the one she came from, and she was looking at around $US250K in debt on graduation.

Meanwhile the situation seems very similar in the UK, with the New Statesman’s journalist India Ross arguing that university practices are worsening the situation.

Today’s universities require money, above all else, from their students, and they are becoming increasingly astute at securing it. They are free to advertise implausible futures – and what they have for sale, the young consumer will buy.

It's an interesting perspective. For the full article click here.

Should the Government subsidise student places in veterinary courses? Do vets protesteth too much? Any ideas on how to solve this issue? Is a veterinary career as prospective vets imagine it pure fantasy? We’d love to hear from you.