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Action needed as dental student debt soars

Our recent research published in the latest BDJ, shows the total debt of final year dental students and recent dental graduates has more than doubled, from £24,734 in 2013 to £52,922 in 2022.

BDJ - Student debt of UK dental students and recent graduates

Increased student fees in 2010 and 2016 and the loss of student grants in 2016 have played a large part in the levels of debt students are facing. We found students are now borrowing more from loan companies and family and friends to keep afloat, with the average value of loan company debt up to nearly £3,000.

Three in five (60.2%) respondents are experiencing financial difficulties while studying and over a quarter (28.2%) nearly did not come to university due to concerns about debts. Roughly a third (37.9%) of respondents have thought about dropping out of university, with students from more disadvantaged socioeconomic groups more likely to face this scenario.

"As millions of patients struggle to access care, debt is leaving many students thinking twice about their future in the dental profession," said BDA Student Committee Chair Paul Blaylock. "We need the brightest and the best on the frontline, and eye-watering levels of debt should not be a barrier. The next generation of dentists and patients deserves better."

We continue to call for sufficient support to ensure the needs of current and future dental students are met as part of a fully funded long-term workforce plan.

We are continuing to push for an adequate level of maintenance support. All dental students should be entitled to an NHS bursary, and all UK governments should jointly produce information resources which allow prospective students to easily find out what support is available.