Do you dream of working with animals? Is your heart set on becoming a veterinarian, veterinary nurse, animal health technician, veterinary physiotherapist, veterinary technologist, or laboratory animal technologist? Or are you already a professional looking to further your studies?
Whether you are wanting to apply for undergraduate studies to become a veterinary or para-veterinary professional, or you are already a qualified veterinarian and wish to specialise, always ensure that the qualification that you are applying for is eligible for registration with the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) so that you can legally practise in South Africa.
There are a number of international universities offering online degrees in the veterinary or para-veterinary professions, sometimes even at master’s or PhD degree level.
While some of these are reputable qualifications, obtaining them will generally not allow you to practise in South Africa or be recognised for purposes of specialisation in a particular discipline.
Studying abroad will also not necessarily allow veterinarians to practise in South Africa unless there is a mutual recognition agreement in place between the veterinary council in the country where you studied and the SAVC.
Even so, there are only specific institutions and veterinary qualifications that qualify, para-veterinary qualifications do not qualify. If you do not have one of these qualifications, but hold another foreign qualification, you will be required to write, and pass, the SAVC registration examination – irrespective of whether you are a South African or foreign national.
There are currently a number of South African veterinary graduates who have studied abroad who expected automatic registration to practise in South Africa, but who are now faced with having to take the registration examination, their patrons having neglected to inform them that they will not be allowed to practise automatically in South Africa by virtue of being a South African citizen.
It is therefore of vital importance to do your homework ahead of applying for any qualification in the veterinary or para-veterinary professions, to ensure that it is eligible for registration with the SAVC or at the very least, that you will be eligible to write the SAVC registration examination.
Your first port of call is the SAVC website; under the Professions tab there is a link to student information under each profession, where you can find SAVC-accredited qualifications (full list provided below). Information about the registration examination can also be found on the website.
It is best to contact the SAVC if you have any queries about qualifications before you start any studies. It is also important to establish that you are embarking on your studies at a reputable training institution. In South Africa, all tertiary training institutions have to be registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
You can also get information from the training institutions, the DHET, the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) or the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).
In relation to online courses, you will need to find out where the practical training will take place. You cannot enrol for an international online course and then do the practical training in South Africa, as this will be a contravention of the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act (No. 19 of 1982).
How to register with the SAVC
To register to practise a veterinary or para-veterinary profession in South Africa you must submit the completed SAVC application form, a certified copy of your identity document or passport and of the prescribed qualification(s) for automatic registration or pass the Council registration examination, and proof of payment for the once-off registration fee to the SAVC registration’s division.
Once registered, you will receive a SAVC registration certificate and be allocated a SAVC registration number to practise in South Africa and after that an annual maintenance fee to remain on the register.
Should a veterinary or para-veterinary professional practise in South Africa without having registered with the SAVC, such a person will be committing a criminal offence, which is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or both – a fine and such imprisonment.
Graduates who acquired a qualification that is not accredited by the SAVC have no legal claims against the institution; the onus is on potential students to find this out.
Adherence to international standards
The SAVC ensures that the veterinary and para-veterinary professions in South Africa are aligned to international standards.
The SAVC is part of the International Accreditors Working Group together with the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the American Veterinary Medicines Association (AVMA) and the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE).
Through mutual recognition agreements that the SAVC holds with counterparts in the United Kingdom (with the RCVS) and Australia and New Zealand (with the AVBC), veterinary professionals with qualifications from some of the training institutions in these regions can register in South Africa without having to sit the registration examination.
The SAVC monitors institutions and qualifications to ensure the standards of training which involve monitoring the individual subjects as well as through regular visits to the training institution. The basis for the mutual recognition agreements is regular visitations to each other’s institutions to monitor the agreed-upon training standards.
Accredited qualifications in SA
These are the only locally accredited qualifications eligible for automatic registration with the SAVC:
- Veterinarians: Bachelor of Veterinary Science – University of Pretoria
- Veterinary Nurse: Bachelor in Veterinary Nursing – University of Pretoria
- Veterinary Technologist: Bachelor of Health in Veterinary Technology – Tshwane University of Technology
- Animal Health Technician: Diploma in Animal Health – Unisa/North-West University/TARDI, BSc in Agriculture in Animal Health – North-West University
- Veterinary Physiotherapist: BSc in Veterinary Physiotherapy – Equine-Librium College
- Laboratory Animal Technologist: (UK) IAT Level 3, Unisa practical training, Jurisprudence and Pharmacology modules and SAVC registration examination
- The postgraduate MMedVet veterinary specialist degrees – University of Pretoria (The alternative route to veterinary specialisation is through a peer review process – detailed information is available on the SAVC website.)
If your qualification is not listed above, then you are not eligible for automatic registration to practise in South Africa. There are some degrees/diploma/certificates offered locally that the SAVC does not recognise.
Internationally accredited qualifications
Accredited by the AVBC and eligible for automatic registration with the SAVC:
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Queensland, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Melbourne, Australia
- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), University of Melbourne, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Sydney, Australia
- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), University of Sydney, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS), Murdoch University, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Bioscience (BVSc), University of Adelaide, Australia
- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), University of Adelaide, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), James Cook University, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Biology (BVBiol), Charles Sturt University, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), Charles Sturt University, Australia
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), Massey University, New Zealand
Accredited by the RCVS and eligible for automatic registration with the SAVC:
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Bristol, UK
- Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (VetMB), University of Cambridge, UK
- Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc), University of Liverpool, UK
- Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVetMed), Royal Veterinary College, London, UK
- Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine (BVM), University of Nottingham, UK
- Bachelor of Veterinary Surgery (BVS), University of Nottingham, UK
- Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Science (BVMSci), University of Surrey, UK
- Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVM&S), University of Edinburgh, Scotland
- Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVMS), University of Glasgow, Scotland
For more information please contact:
Leonie Westcott, Director of Education at the SAVC: email@example.com
Mpho Mojanaga, Director of Registrations at the SAVC: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dinamarie Stoltz, Director of Legal Affairs at the SAVC: email@example.com