New Dental School Set to Make the North West Smile

Europe?s newest dental school has opened at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). Costing ?5.25m it is one of the first new dental schools to be built in Britain for over a century, it will provide world-class teaching facilities and set new standards in dentists? training

The school, which was officially opened by the UK?s Chief Dental Officer Barry Cockcroft, incorporates a range of state-of-the-art technologies, including a Phantom Head Room, where students will carry out practical techniques on manikin heads, and a Prosthetics Laboratory where they will learn to make dental appliances such as crowns and dentures. Professor Lawrence Mair, an experienced academic and Consultant in Restorative Dentistry, is Head of School.

The new facility is the result of work undertaken by the Cumbria and Lancashire Medical and Dental Education Consortium, a joint venture between UCLan and the Universities of Liverpool, Lancaster and Cumbria. They, together with the NW Strategic Health Authority and local PCT Trusts, responded to Government figures identifying the chronic need for more qualified dentists in the North West and were awarded funding from the Higher Education Funding Council to train an additional 32 students per year in the North West. Liverpool University have provided the curriculum and UCLan will be responsible for its delivery, supported by Liverpool and Consortium members.

The new four-year graduate entry course offers a balance of theoretical study and practical training, and will provide a new core of qualified dentists across the region. Students will spend their first year studying on campus in the new school at UCLan, before relocating for three years? clinical training at one of four newly-established Dental Education Centres (DECs) in Accrington, Blackpool, Carlisle and Morecambe Bay. The DECs will be clinical training centres where students will treat patients, under supervision, and gain first-hand experience within the communities they are most likely to serve after graduation.

Professor Mair said: ?This is a very exciting time for us. We had 181 applications for the first intake so the selection process was very competitive. The 32 successful applicants have now started the undergraduate programme in our new purpose-built school.

?This new school is very different from the established schools in that we have four clinical education centres distributed around the North West rather than being confined to one location, which will allow our students to gain experience in the local communities. Four years may seem a long time before these first cohorts qualify but, even while they are training, they will be providing treatment in the local areas.?

Hew Mathewson, President of the General Dental Council, said:

?We are delighted that through the University of Central Lancashire?s Dental School there will be a new opportunity for graduates in other disciplines to study dentistry in the UK by joining an innovative and exciting looking new course. As the UK dental regulator one of the General Dental Council?s key roles is setting educational standards. We will work closely with the school to ensure that high standards are reached and maintained.?

Picture: L-R Professor Lawrence Mair, Head of the School of Dentistry; Eillen Martin, Dean, Faculty of Heath; Malcolm McVicar, Vice-Chancellor and Barry Cockcroft, Chief Dental Office (England).