lwescott is a post graduate UK student who decided to apply abroad to UVM Kosice, Slovakia.
Why did you want to become a vet?
I always knew growing up that I wanted to work with animals and having looked at many careers I started seriously thinking about veterinary medicine when I was in Year 11.
What work experience did you obtain before applying?
My first job aged 15 was at a local children’s farm where I spent most weekends and school holidays building up my animal husbandry experience. My Year 11 school work experience was spent with Guide Dogs, working in kennels and training dogs as well as a few weeks at a local small animal surgery.
What grades did you get?
I finished school with 10 GCSE’s A*-B.
During Sixth Form I attended the Vet Medlink and VetSim conferences, open days at Bristol and Nottingham Vet Schools in order to get more information about a career in veterinary medicine.
Having considered my academic application I decided not to apply for vet school straight from school and instead opted for another science based degree which I could use as a foundation for getting a job or further study.
Where did you apply for your first degree? What grades did you get at A level?
I applied to Aberystwyth University, sat their scholarship exam and a few weeks later I received a merit award with two unconditional offers to read Animal Science or Zoology. The more animal based agricultural Animal Science degree appealed to me so I accepted the offer.
In hindsight I switched off at this point and regret not putting the work into my A Levels meaning I finished with an A in AS Business Studies, C in Biology and C in General Studies; nowhere near the mark for studying Veterinary Medicine in the UK.
What do you feel you gained from doing a degree before going to vet school? What grade classification did you get?
I loved every minute of my degree and university experience, made great life-long friends, got involved with several societies.
I would choose the same route again if I had the choice. I graduated in 2013 with a 2:II BSc (Hons) in Animal Science.
What work experience did you do while at Uni?
I worked every year doing night lambing for two farms. One was an organic farm with 2000 ewes and the other a performance recorded research flock. We would go lambing 8pm-8am, get home, shower and go straight to lectures. Although it was hard work, it was invaluable experience of two totally different production systems. I stayed for the Easter holidays to lamb overnight and spend the days at the local mixed animal practice out on call to down cows, Bovine TB testing or in surgery watching sheep caesareans and loved every minute of it. The three weeks confirmed I still wanted to work in the veterinary field.
What did you do after uni?
I did some reading about postgraduate studies at the time but finances in the UK would be a problem so shelved the idea for a while. I spent the next year working in an office to start saving some money, applied for lots of animal related jobs but everything always led back to veterinary medicine.
Why did you apply to go to university abroad rather than the UK?
I knew I wouldn’t be accepted into UK vet schools with my grades, let alone afford the fees but as many of my friends were on gap years around the world, studying abroad really appealed to me.
What unis did you look into? Why did you choose to go to Kosice?
Around Christmas time I started seriously looking into the application process and booked a trip to visit Budapest and Kosice vet schools which both offer English taught courses.
Budapest is a lovely city in Hungary and the vet school had great facilities but after speaking to students there at the time, there seemed to be a trend of overcrowded classes with students regularly failing exams, paying to repeat these and having to take inactive years to cut down class sizes which, for the students, means spending more time and money than the 5 and a half years they originally signed up for.
Tuition fees for 2015/16 are €10,980 per year. On top of this there is an entrance exam fee of €250 and registration of €220. Living costs seem comparable to the UK with rent at around €400 a month.
The city of Kosice in Slovakia is much smaller than Budapest but the students here seemed much more positive about the course and university.
Kosice offer a 4 year post-BSc course which I was eligible for, as well as a 6 year General Veterinary Medicine (GVM) course for A Level leavers.
Tuition fees for 2015/16 are €7,500 per year. There is an application fee €50 plus registration of €200 once accepted.
Students at UVM Kosice graduate with a DVM qualification, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
The course is fully accredited and allows you to register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which means I will be able to practice within the UK and EU.
It is approved by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE), the same as most UK vet schools.
The choice was obvious for me and with the cheaper 4 year course, I made my decision and applied to Kosice.
How was the application process like?
The application process was simple. I submitted a completed application form, CV, A Level certificates and University higher education report to the Foreign Office to be individually evaluated by the Vice Rector, with the whole process taking just a few weeks.
Secondary school leavers applying for the 6 year GVM course have to sit an additional Chemistry and Biology based entrance exam in July or August.
Describe your experience of moving abroad to study at Kosice.
Having grown up in Birmingham, moving 2000km away to Slovakia was a big step and it took a few weeks for me to settle in properly.
The older years were really supportive and really helped us in the first semester arranging a freshers’ week, days out and providing us with notes and book for various modules.
Is there a language barrier?
Generally the younger generation and everyone under 30 can speak English so I’ve not had too many problems with the language barrier. I was surprised at how much English there is around town and there are lots of recognisable shops. Kosice has McDonalds and Subway, two 24hour Tesco’s, H&M and even Marks & Spencer!
We have a Slovak language module in the first semester so I know the basics such as numbers and how to order a taxi, food and drink and can get by day-to-day in shops without too many problems.
What financial support do you get for studying abroad as a post-grad? How much does it cost to live in Kosice?
There is currently no financial support for studying here other than applying for grants or a career development loan but the cost of living in Slovakia is much lower than England.
Tuition fees are €7,500 per year compared with £9,000-£26,500 per year studying in the UK.
Most people live in dorms which costs €120 per month, with half rent of €60 for the months of Christmas, Easter and summer when we’re not here; for comparison I paid £80/€110 per week in Aberystwyth.
Supermarket prices are comparable to back home with imported British brands being more expensive but cheaper Slovak alternatives are perfectly fine once you know what they are
Eating and drinking out is much cheaper with a pint of beer costing between 80 cent and €1.50, we can go into town for a pizza and a pint for €6.50. On the other hand, imported clothes, toiletries and electricals are more expensive so I tend to buy those online.
Public transport here cannot be faulted with regular trams and buses all over the city that are always on time with a 30 minute ticket costing 30 cents. Students under the age of 26 get free rail travel within Slovakia.
If booked early, flights from Kosice to London Luton can be booked with Wizz Air for as little as €8, though usually closer to €20.
What is the teaching like in Kosice?
All lectures and practical’s are taught in English and generally the level of lecturers English is good.
Most exams here are oral which seemed daunting at first but works well and is more life-like in that when in practice you will be asked questions and have to form answers on the spot rather than taking an hour to write down your answer. We have weekly credit tests in anatomy which ensures we learn as we go along and some other subjects have mid-term credits before finals at the end of each semester. As finals are mostly oral we get given a selection of dates for each subject and choose when we sit the exam, if we fail an exam we can resit in the same exam period
We are also able to apply for exemption from subjects by submitting transcripts of modules we have previously studied in our degrees to give us time to study for other subjects which can mean we have fewer questions in final exams (physiology is down to 10 questions from 120) or a full exemption which I received from Animal Hygiene & Welfare.
There are 21 people in my class and we are split into two practical groups meaning lots of contact time with lecturers.
The course is very heavily practical based which really suits me as I learn more from doing rather than theory.
For most subjects we have one or two hour lectures followed by a three hour practical for lab work, dissections or group work.
In my first semester I have taken blood from a rabbit, cow and chicken and bone marrow from a mouse and a cow; opportunities we would never be afforded in the UK.
What are the facilities like at Kosice Vet School?
The University are spending €2.64million building a new Small Animal Hospital which is due for completion in October 2015 with departments of surgery, obstetrics, infectious diseases, emergencies as well as a CT clinic with MRI scanner.
What country are the other students from?
We truly are an international cohort with students gathered from all over the world including lots of English, Irish and Norwegians as well as some students from Israel, Iceland, Hong Kong, America and Australia, with student ages ranging from 18 to 40+.
What is the city like?
Since moving here I really noticed how much the city is being developed. Kosice was named as the European Capital of Culture in 2013 for which they received a €60million investment to improve the city and infrastructure.
Kosice is conveniently located in central Europe, just 3 hours from Budapest or a 5 hour drive to Vienna.
Wizz Air have recently opened a base in Kosice starting flights to Sheffield and Milan from €30 return, with talks of flights to Ireland starting soon which will bring more people and money into the local economy.