StudentsThe Government risks shutting students from poorer backgrounds out of healthcare professions, the BDA has warned.

The warning follows media coverage suggesting that the Government plans to cut bursaries for student doctors and dentists.

Nurses have already been in the firing line, with funding for students scrapped in the November budget.

The British Dental Association has argued that the next generation of healthcare professionals will now be saddled with unacceptable levels of debt, with dental graduates already facing an average estimated debt of £60,000 come graduation day.

1,231 dental students received support with their studies in the 2014/15 academic year, with £5,682,231 spent covering the cost of bursaries and tuition fees.

‘Over £60,000 debt’

Paul Blaylock, chair of the BDA’s Students’ Committee said: ‘If the funding is cut for student dentists, the government will shut talented young people out of the dental profession.

‘These bursaries represent a lifeline for some students, and are not going to magically plug the black hole in the public finances.

‘Already a typical dental graduate could expect to be saddled with over £60,000 debt come graduation day.

‘These new loans will only serve to discourage students from poorer backgrounds.

‘Nurses, doctors and dentists are at one on this.

‘Government shouldn’t be looking to balance the books off the back of the next generation of healthcare professionals.’

Dental Bursaries and debt:

  • Dental students have to apply for funding through the students loans company for the first four years of the standard dental degree, from the fifth year of the dental degree those eligible for an NHS student bursary can apply for a £1,000 non means tested grant
  • In the 6+ year, dental students studying in London away from the parental home are eligible for a means tested basic rate grant of £3,191 + £1,000 non means tested grant.
    Those outside London and away from home are eligible for £2,643 + £1,000 non means tested grant. Those living at the parental home are eligible for £2,207 + £1,000 non means tested grant
  • According to government figures 1,231 dental students received support with their studies in the 2014/15 academic year, with £5,682,231 spent covering the cost of bursaries and tuition fees
  • In summer 2013 the BDA conducted an online survey of final-year dental students to estimate levels of borrowing and debt among dental students, and identify the sources of borrowing and debt.
    This data has enabled the BDA to project an estimated debt level of £60,000 for students graduating in 2018/19, with almost all of this consisting of student loan borrowing.