Last Friday, the Scottish Government responded to our call to support dental undergraduates who face having to repeat a year owing to COVID disruption. Ministers announced a support package with a bursary of up to £6,750 for dental students who could not graduate this year. However, Aberdeen finalists have since been informed by university staff they will not qualify for this support as they are not required to complete a full year of additional study.
We have written 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 asking for urgent clarification.
David McColl, Chair of our Scottish Dental Practice Committee said:
”We are deeply disturbed by reports that final year students at Aberdeen have been told they will not qualify for government support, by virtue of the fact their extension will not cover a full 12 months.
“We hope this is an administrative oversight that will be immediately rectified. If it is not it will signal a two-tier approach that will protect some students from a mountain of debt, but not others. What every final year student now requires is certainty and support.”
Scottish dental students can already expect to graduate with over £34,000 debt. An additional year of study without a bursary would push these levels to over £40,000.
Questions remain over the status of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and overseas students studying at Scottish dental schools, and whether the bursary will be means tested. We will continue to push for clarity on your behalf.
We have also renewed our call for the Scottish Government to provide additional funding to dental schools to mitigate the financial losses they’re facing.