Analysis of the costs of veterinary education and factors associated with financial stress among veterinary students in Australia

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Abstract

Objective

To investigate the course-related and other costs involved in obtaining a veterinary education in Australia and how these costs are met. The study also aimed to identify sociodemographic and course-related factors associated with increased financial stress.

Methods

Students from seven Australian veterinary schools were surveyed using an online questionnaire. A total of 443 students participated (response rate 17%). Responses to survey items relating to finances, employment and course-related costs were compared with sociodemographic factors and prior research in the area of student financial stress.

Results

Respondents reported spending a median of A$300 per week on living costs and a median of A$2,000 per year on course-related expenses. Over half of respondents received the majority of their income from their parents or Youth Allowance (56%). A similar proportion (55%) reported that they needed to work to meet basic living expenses. Circumstances and sociodemographic factors linked to perceived financial stress included requiring additional finances to meet unexpected costs during the course; sourcing additional finances from external loans; an expected tuition debt at graduation over A$40,000; being 22 years or older; working more than 12 hours per week; living costs above A$300 per week; and being female.

Conclusion

The costs involved in obtaining a veterinary education in Australia are high and over half of respondents are reliant on parental or Government income support. Respondents with certain sociodemographic profiles are more prone to financial stress. These findings may have implications for the psychological health, diversity and career plans of veterinary students in Australia.

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