Dental students in Scotland have been unable to gain enough clinical experience to graduate, Jeane Freeman Health Secretary says.
Students will therefore have to retake their final year, after COVID-19 forced universities to limit aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).
Mrs Freeman told the BBC that the decision to make students repeat a year was a ‘tough one’.
‘It is about giving dental students the experience denied to them this year because of the pandemic,’ she said.
‘We need to therefore ensure that people studying dentistry can enter the profession as confident fully-qualified clinicians.’
Additional dental student bursary
The Scottish government says it is determined to support students by offering an additional bursary for those affected.
BDA Scotland has welcomed the £6,750 bursary, which students from Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow dental schools can access.
Without this bursary it says dental students could leave dental school with debt levels over £40,000.
‘This is the leadership we’ve needed from the Scottish government,’ David McColl, chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee says.
‘No one wanted graduations to be deferred. But now the next generation of dentists have real certainty, support, and protection from what would have been eye-watering levels of debt.
‘It’s inevitable that COVID will widen oral health inequalities that have long blighted Scotland.
‘We can therefore draw some comfort that Ministers have helped secure the pipeline of new talent we’ll need to meet these challenges.’