A survey of final-year dental students to examine the impact of study-related debt on access to the profession and career plans has been launched by the British Dental Association (BDA).
Final-year student members of the BDA across all four countries of the UK are being urged to complete the survey so that a comprehensive, up-to-date picture on the levels of borrowing and debt among dentistry students, and the impact they have on them, can be formed.
The survey will build on qualitative research carried out by the BDA that has been published today. This research indicates that the impact of increased tuition fees could act as a deterrent for some students interested in pursuing a career in dentistry.
Concerns were also expressed about the Student Loan Company's failure to take into account the longer terms experienced by dental students. Their formula appears to be based on a standard degree involving 30 academic weeks per year, whereas dental students are expected to survive on the same loan over a 40-week period.
The research highlights that some dental students may postpone or abandon their ambition to become a specialist in areas such as maxillofacial surgery and periodontics, due to the extra costs involved.
Commenting on the survey launched today, the Chair of the BDAâ€™s Student Committee, Dr Paul Blaylock, said: â€œStudent debt is a persistent and growing concern in dentistry. We believe that entrants to dental courses must be selected on merit, not their ability to pay course fees â€“ so that the best, brightest and most caring candidates are able to join the profession. I urge all final-year BDA student members to participate and help us build the fuller picture that is crucial to lobbying for change.â€
The survey closes on Monday 13 May. The names of those who take part will be entered into a draw to win a BDA clinical guide of the participantâ€™s choice. There will be five winners.