Cuts to the funding of dental academia could adversely affect the ability of UK dental schools to maintain the supply of high-quality new graduates into the workforce, the British Dental Association (BDA) has warned today.
The BDA’s warning follows the recent announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) that funding allocations for universities and higher education colleges for 2010-11 will be reduced.
Professor Paul Wright, chair of the BDA’s central committee for dental academic staff (CCDAS), warns that cuts to posts in dental schools would exacerbate the inadequate staff resources that institutions are already confronting.
He argues that every extra student in a clinical session without a concomitant increase in supervision means risking a reduction in the quality of care for patients that can be assured.
Professor Wright also warns the way dental academia is funded, with money coming from both HEFCE and the NHS, means that schools are at risk of a far greater cut to their finances than might be anticipated or intended.
Professor Wright said: ‘We recognise that the public purse faces a challenging time. We also recognise that academics in many disciplines will be making their cases for the preservation of their particular subject areas.
‘Dentistry really is in a unique position though; in the way it is funded, the already stretched position it is in, and the value to society of the graduates it produces.
‘Cuts to dental schools’ budgets threaten the high quality of both the dentists and the research that UK institutions produce. We urge extreme caution by universities as they absorb HEFCE’s announcement.’