Scottish dental students forced by Covid to repeat a year

Holyrood ministers say pandemic restrictions mean students have been unable to gain sufficient clinical experience

February 12, 2021
Dental students
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All dental students in Scotland will have to repeat a year after their training was disrupted by Covid, the Holyrood government has said.

Ministers said that students had not been able to gain sufficient clinical experience of aerosol-generating procedures, which have been restricted during the pandemic because they often result in the release of airborne particles.

Students will be offered a bursary of up to £6,750 to support them through the additional year of training.

Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s public health minister, said that the decision was “difficult but necessary”.

“The quality and calibre of dental treatment in Scotland is outstanding and it needs to be protected by taking the appropriate measures in education to ensure future dental professionals have reached the General Dental Council’s standard of clinical competence and can enter the workforce with confidence,” she said.

Graduation for final-year students at the dental schools of the universities of Dundee and Glasgow will be delayed until summer 2022, while final-year students at the University of Aberdeen will be deferred until Christmas 2021. All students in other year groups will repeat the 2020-21 academic year.

Ms Gougeon said she had been assured that the relative lack of aerosol-generating procedures in courses such as medicine, nursing and midwifery meant that students on these programmes would not have to repeat a year. “Any extensions to their programmes will be covered by other arrangements,” she said.

Matt Crilly, Scotland president of the National Union of Students, said the need to repeat a year would be “deeply disappointing” for students.

“We welcome the Scottish government’s support for students to access bursaries next year, however, we now need clarity from the Scottish government to ensure all students can benefit from support and that no student is financially penalised as a result,” he said. 

“The marketisation of universities means many students have to pay astronomical fees to access education. It is only right these dentistry students should be given full compensation.”

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