It’s official — just this month, March 2011, Ross University became the first veterinary school in the Caribbean to become fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA-COE).
Since 2006 Ross University has been working hard to jump through the many metaphorical hoops to gain accreditation by the AVMA-COE. Now that they are fully accredited, students will be able to gain full licensure without taking a foreign graduate equivalency exam, an exam that has historically cost $5-6k.
Other than saving students money, I would predict that Ross’s new accreditation status will quickly lead to a substantial increase in the number of applicants that apply to the university every year. In fact, given that Ross has a unique program (compared to the US veterinary schools) in that they have 3 application cycles allowing students to enter the incoming class at THREE different points throughout the year, I predict that many students who do not gain acceptance to veterinary school within the US will be applying to later application cycles at Ross so as to avoid waiting another year for a shot at veterinary school. This is crucial in my mind as it is not always desirable to put one’s life on hold for year after year while applying to veterinary school, considering that on average it takes 3 application cycles to gain an acceptance.
What’s more, now that Ross is fully accredited, I can see many students considering Ross as an ideal location to attend veterinary school as it is on a Caribbean island. Sure, that means increased travel costs at breaks and holidays to visit family or have family visit, but you will have ample opportunities to study in the sunshine and on the beach.
My main concern with Caribbean veterinary schools has historically been the issue of loans. In the past, many students at Caribbean veterinary schools were put in the position of having to secure private loans at high interest rates in order to afford veterinary school (unless they had other means of paying). Ross University students qualify for federal loans and so, now, do students at St. George’s University as the AVMA announced on their website. As the article states, “St. George’s is now the only foreign veterinary school certified as an eligible institution for the direct loan program that is not accredited by the AVMA Council on Education.” I am confident that this is a step in the right direction for St. George’s and that they will soon follow Ross in receiving full accreditation by the AVMA Coucil on Education.