The British Dental Association Scotland has welcomed action from the Scottish Government in response to its call to support dental undergraduates who face having to repeat a year owing to COVID-19 disruption.
A bursary of up to £6,750 will now be offered to students at Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow Dental Schools that all moved to defer graduation given the limitations on clinical contact in the last year.
The BDA issued an open letter to Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman, and Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney on 2 February, calling for necessary action to prevent the next generation of dentists being saddled with unmanageable debt.
Scottish dental students can already expect to graduate with over £34,000 debt. An additional year of study without a bursary would have pushed levels to over £40,000.
The Scottish Government has also confirmed it will continue to support trainers and trainees, based in NHS practices across Scotland.
The BDA has renewed its call on the Scottish Government to provide additional funding to dental schools to mitigate the financial losses associated with the announcement.
David McColl, Chair, British Dental Association's Scottish Dental Practice Committee said: 'This is the leadership we've needed from the Scottish Government.
'No one wanted graduations to be deferred, but now the next generation of dentists have real certainty, support and protection from what would have been eye-watering levels of debt.
'It's inevitable that COVID-19 will widen oral health inequalities that have long blighted Scotland. We can draw some comfort that Ministers have helped secure the pipeline of new talent we'll need to meet these challenges.'
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Safety net delivered for dental students as 2021 graduation deferred. BDJ Student 28, 8 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41406-021-0220-8