The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) provides a form of quality assurance for those who entrust their animals into the care of veterinary surgeons. All veterinary surgeons wishing to practise in the UK must be registered members.
We regulate the profession to ensure that members of the public and their animals are able to obtain veterinary services from veterinary surgeons who are properly qualified and conduct themselves in a professional manner.
In addition to the information set out below, please watch our video 'Here for you', which explains more about who we are and what we do.
The RCVS is an organisation of two parts:
A regulator, with responsibilities set out in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966:
- To maintain a Register of Veterinary Surgeons entitled to practise in the UK
- To regulate veterinary education and the standards required for inclusion on the Register
- To regulate professional conduct by producing advice; investigating complaints and potentially removing names from the Register
A Royal College, with powers under the Royal Charter of 1844 and the Supplemental Charter of 1967:
- To award postgraduate qualifications, including Fellowships, Diplomas and Certificates
- To maintain a list of veterinary surgeons who are RCVS Specialists
- To award qualifications to, and regulate, veterinary nurses on a Register
- To inspect and accredit practice standards in accordance with the voluntary Practice Standards Scheme
- To support RCVS Knowledge and the development of veterinary science
- To provide a source of information and opinion on relevant veterinary matters.
In addition, we also:
- Register veterinary practice premises where veterinary medicines are stored or supplied, on behalf of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate
- Maintain, with the British Veterinary Association, a list of approved riding establishment inspectors
On entering the College, all members promise that they will pursue the work of the profession with uprightness of conduct and that their constant endeavour will be to ensure the welfare of animals committed to their care. Our combined role, as regulator and Royal College, is to ensure that veterinary surgeons live up to this promise.
The governance of the College
The RCVS is governed by a Council of 42 members that meets three times a year (March, June and November) to determine RCVS policy.
You can download agendas and papers relating to these meetings in on the main RCVS website.
The Council is made up of 24 members elected by the RCVS membership, 14 nominated by the seven UK universities with veterinary schools offering an approved degree course, and four nominated by the Privy Council. There are currently eight non-veterinary surgeons serving on Council, including a veterinary nurse.
You can read more about our Council members on the main RCVS website.
From these 42 members, Council elects four Officers: the President, Senior Vice-President, Junior Vice-President, and the Treasurer. The Registrar is also an Officer, although not a member of Council.
The RCVS exists primarily to represent the public interest, as distinct from the British Veterinary Association (BVA), which represents the profession. So RCVS Council members are not there to represent the veterinary profession, although the elected veterinary members play a role in ensuring the views of the profession are reflected when policy is developed.
Veterinary nurses have their own Council, which includes elected veterinary nurses and appointed veterinary surgeons.
You can download agendas and papers relating to the Veterinary Nurses Council, and meet its members, from the Committees section of the main RCVS website.
College business is managed through a series of committees, looking at issues such as advice, education, public affairs, and planning and resources.
The committees largely comprise Council members and meet three times a year, three weeks before Council. The Committees may delegate some activities to working parties, subcommittees and boards.
Agendas and papers relating to committee meetings are available for download from the main RCVS website.