Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow Dental Schools have said that all students enrolled in their Dentistry courses will have to repeat a year, after clinical teaching was halted due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Final year students at Dundee and Glasgow will now graduate in summer 2022, whilst those at Aberdeen can still expect to graduate at the end of 2021.
All other years will repeat the year of study they were enrolled in for the academic year 2020-21.
Dentistry has ranked highest for infection risk throughout the pandemic due to the common use of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), such as high-speed drilling, which can cause droplets to spread.
This, and the close proximity to patients, has meant the risk of Covid-19 transmission has remained high, making it unsafe for students and the general public.
Dental schools said that students were unable to gain enough clinical experience with the current restrictions in place and this would be insufficient to reach the necessary level of clinical expertise for registration to the General Dental Council.
On Friday, Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon expressed her support for the decision, saying that “This difficult but necessary decision by Scotland’s Dental Schools will be extremely disappointing news for dental students across the country…dental treatment in Scotland is outstanding and it needs to be protected by taking the appropriate measures.”
The Scottish government have announced a bursary of up to £6,750 for all those having to repeat a year.
However, the bursary value will only match their normal student loan, which is dependent on household income, and may not cover all the extra costs for rent and living.
Other financial help, such as grants and SAAS bursaries will continue to be available for some students.
Medical Schools and nursing and midwifery courses in Scotland have confirmed that students will be graduating as planned and that any missed clinical teaching will be rearranged within the normal degree timeframe.
It is still unclear if dental schools in the rest of the UK will adopt the same approach.
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