Scottish Government ‘must avoid two-tier support for dental students’

16 February, 2021 / infocus
 Will Peakin  

The British Dental Association Scotland is seeking urgent clarification from the Scottish Government, following news that final year students at Aberdeen have been told they will not be eligible for financial support after delays to their graduation.

On Friday, Ministers announced a support package, with a bursary of up to £6,750.

However, Aberdeen finalists, who are not expected to see their graduation extended by a full year have been informed by university staff they will not qualify for this support.

The BDA also said there remained questions over the status of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and overseas students studying at Scottish dental schools.  

An open letter has been sent to Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman, and Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills John Swinney. 

In the letter David McColl, Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Dental Practice Committee, writes: “We welcomed this bursary announcement in no uncertain terms. It demonstrated the necessary leadership we expect from all UK governments.  

“So, 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 would 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.  

“Questions remain over the status of English, Welsh, Northern Irish, and overseas students at all Scotland’s dental schools. What every final year student now requires is certainty and support.”

An Aberdeen University spokesman said: “Discussions are ongoing regarding financial assistance for our final year dental students but we have reassured them that they will receive support consistent with that given to students at Scotland’s other dental schools.”

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