Students welcome ‘stop gap’ in study fees

This week’s announcement that 2012-13 entrants will see their year five fees fully covered by the bursary is a good short-term solution that provides breathing space for a longer-term solution to be agreed.

That’s the view of the British Dental Association (BDA), which has been lobbying for what looked like a huge gap in student finance that could have seen next year’s intake of dental students applying for courses this year without knowing the size of the financial commitment they were making.

The BDA and other representative bodies have been lobbying for a resolution of the situation which appeared to run against the government’s own policy on ensuring free access to the professions for young people irrespective of their ability to pay up front for their tuition.

But it is clear that the solution is a stopgap measure for a single year’s cohort of entrants to dental and medical degrees, leaving a longer-term solution still to be negotiated.

This process must fully engage the professional groups it will affect, the BDA believes.

Martin Nimmo, chair of the BDA’s Student Committee, said: ‘The reprieve that has been announced this week is a sensible measure that allows prospective dental students to apply for 2012 entry secure in the knowledge that they understand the financial commitment they are making.

‘But this is only a short-term measure and it’s vital that the breathing space this gives is properly utilised by the Departments of Health and Business, Innovation and Skills to talk to the professions concerned and broker an appropriate long-term arrangement that is in line with the fair access agenda and that recognises the significant debts those studying for these degrees accrue.’

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