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Veterinary Science at UP

by Daniel Basel

Here’s all the need-to-know information on a Veterinary Science degree (BVSc) at the University of Pretoria, including a few pointers and student opinions.

Veterinary Science is one of the most sought-after degrees at the University of Pretoria. It is 1 of only 46 VetSci programmes in Africa, and the only one in South Africa.

Being such a long, challenging and internationally recognised degree, the entrance requirements are high, and the work is tough. It is also interesting to note that when applying to a BVSc, the application takes into account other achievements (such as head-boy or head-girl, the President’s Award etc.) more than most other degree programmes. All that being said, there are other ways into Veterinary Science too.

Getting in

  • Focus on grade 11! It is your grade 11 report that will determine your provisional acceptance into BVSc. Additionally, hard work in grade 11 will set the standard for your grade 12 year, which is equally important.
  • Achieve high marks in Mathematics and Physical Sciences. Specifically, a minimum of 60% in both Mathematics and Physical Science is necessary. Particularly in first year, Maths and Science comprise a large portion of the degree.
  • Take Biology. This may seem obvious, but biology will stand you in good stead for Veterinary Science in first semester.
  • Your school average does matter. In addition to good Maths and Science marks, the necessary APS score is 36 points.
  • Get involved in community projects. This has a major impact on getting into this degree.

Alternative entry

The best way to get into a BVSc degree without acceptance into a BVSc is through a BSc Biological Sciences. The entrance requirements are lower and there are more places available. After completing the necessary modules (and achieving exceptional grades), a student can apply to transfer to second year VetSci.

This is definitely easier to get into in the first year of study. However, that means the competition to transfer to VetSci is extremely high. Only 15% of second year BVSc spots are available to applicants with the required previous university exposure. This 15% includes a certain, previously allocated, international student and race quota.

Why getting in is so difficult

The University of Pretoria has a long-standing reputation of producing some of the best veterinarians on the continent. In a successful attempt to ensure this high standard is maintained, only the best candidates are considered.
The university also takes community involvement very seriously regarding a BVSc. Candidates that have been involved in community projects for a while prior to application definitely have a higher chance of getting in. Academics is certainly not the only determining factor when applying. Very few students have a lot of experience in community projects to add to their application.

The BVSc Degree

The first year studying VetSci is on the University of Pretoria’s main campus in Hatfield. However, from second year on, these students move across to the Onderstepoort campus, which is a campus for vets only. Prospective vets will then spend the next 5 years on this campus as it is a 6-year degree, before specialisation.

Applicants should be aware that because the degree is so long and challenging, they should have a true passion for working with animals – especially due to the fact that the later years tend to be very practical.

“I believe that grade 11 is the most important year for a BVSc application. Provisional acceptance is of the utmost importance. The degree itself is difficult, yet rewarding work and I would absolutely encourage anybody with a particular interest and passion for animals to pursue a VetSci degree.”

– Kirsten Houston, first year Veterinary Science student at UP

After the degree

Completing this prestigious degree renders the graduate capable of many different forms of vets. Most common is a companion animal veterinarian. This is the type of veterinarian that works with domestic animals such as dogs, cats, horses etc. This also opens the door to working with livestock, specifically ensuring these animals are in good health. It is common as well for veterinarians to help protect and treat exotic animals.

It is worth noting that after completing the 6-year BVSc degree, the undergraduate can go on to specialise in an area of their chosen field.

UP Vet Science in a nutshell

EduConnect 2cents

When studying this degree, work every single day. The change in working environment does have an effect on the level of academic performance, but consistent work is the most efficient way to deal with this added stress.

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