Dental schools in Scotland won’t take on any new undergraduates this September, Universities Scotland says.
The move comes after universities told current dental students they wouldn’t have sufficient clinical experience to graduate this year.
‘Dentistry is an area which has been particularly badly hit by the COVID pandemic, due to the risk of spread of the virus via aerosol transmission,’ a Universities Scotland spokesperson said.
‘This has severely limited clinical training.
‘All applicants who interviewed for September 2021 will still receive a final decision by 20 May 2021. But any offers this year will have a September 2022 start date.
‘Our sympathies go out to these incoming students who, like so many people, are having their life plans severely disrupted.’
BDA Scotland is warning of increased competition in dental schools following a year with no new students.
It believes this could create ‘major problems’ for the NHS workforce over the coming years.
‘What we said to the Scottish government was that we need to put something in place,’ David McColl, chair of the British Dental Association’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee says.
‘We just can’t defer them for a year without including them within dentistry in some shape or form.
‘If they are keen we want to keep them involved in dentistry.’
The Scottish government says it is determined to support current 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 said at the time.
‘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.’