Dentists tell ministers: don’t cut lifeline for students

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.

One comment

  1. 1

    I am very saddened to read this news. Already involved in dentistry, I had planned to further my education and I am in the process of taking the steps to do so. It has been my dream for a long time now, to become a dentist, and right now it’s finally my time.

    I am praying right now, that the Government does not move forward with any cuts to bursaries for student doctors and student dentists. I am terribly concerned, and I feel this would be a huge mistake. Though dentistry in the United Kingdom has made many leaps and bounds forward in prior years, we still have such a long way to go until we can say that the “culture” of British dentistry is such that its citizens do not “Cost the economy more that 36 million each year”,
    simply due to missed days at work caused by dental decay and oral health problems.

    Overall, there is still an alarming disparity in the U.K. between the Dental IQ of patients and maintaining optimum oral health.

    I am a mature student, and I am very passionate about dentistry. I love what I do. This is what the Government should be focusing on, people like me that want to make a difference in their chosen field in their own neighborhoods. I really hope this is not made harder for me than it already is going to be. The Government should focus their efforts on making it easier for people like me to reach their goals because reaching them does not serve to take care of my needs alone.

    We’ve still got a lot of work to do to get the culture of British oral health where it should be.
    Please work with us, not against us.

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