Cheltenham student faces £109,000 vet tuition fees
WORKING with animals is what Amy Higgins is passionate about – but it is going to cost more than £109,000 to make her dream a reality.
Despite working hard through her animal science degree and giving up her free time to volunteer at rescue centres and vets, the 21-year-old is faced with the hurdle of coming up with the hefty tuition fees to get her qualification.
Amy has wanted to be a vet since she was eight years old.
After completing her A levels at Bournside School, she was wrongly advised to do an animal science degree, which she has just completed at Hartbury College.
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Her tutors say she is on track to get a first class degree.
The Up Hatherley student has now been accepted for a place at the University of Liverpool to study veterinary science.
But the fees are £21,830 a year – for five years.
She says her family will struggle to pay the "astronomical" amount and her chance of becoming a vet should rest on her skills, not her money.
"It is so hard to get into a vet school anyway as there are only seven in the UK," she said. "Because I am already a graduate, they can charge the fees they want.
"We have always known it was going to be expensive but this is ridiculous."
Amy will start her degree at the end of September, but her mum Sarah is now desperately trying to raise money to pay for the course.
Her family and friends are taking part in a sponsored 15-mile walk along the Cotswold Way on July 1.
Mrs Higgins is also hosting a fundraising line dancing event.
She said: "Although we can send her for the first year, as a family we do not have enough to cover the entire cost.
"It is tough. If you are rich or come from a well-off family you can train to be a vet, but if not, you can't.
"These costs are astronomical and there aren't many people who would be able to afford this."
Amy's mum has been writing to charities, local businesses, pharmaceutical companies and philanthropists in the hope of getting some sponsorship for her daughter.
For the sponsored walk, people have donated £5 or £10 and they have now raised £1,000.
Mrs Higgins said: "We don't want to go cap in hand but we do want to highlight how expensive it is to qualify as a vet. It should not be the case." Amy's passion for working with animals has led her to volunteer her time at dairy farms, pig farms, animal centres and wildlife rescue centres.
She has also worked as a receptionist at Woodlands Vet Clinic in Warden Hill for the last five years.
In between her studies, Amy also works at Cheltenham College.
She said: "I have studied really hard to get to where I am so far.
"I would hate money to be the reason I cannot do this.
"It is the only career I have ever wanted to do."
Anyone who wishes to help Amy realise her dream can email her on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Echo on 01242 278000.