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News / May 25, 2021

Talks begin over extra places for dental students in Ireland

by Gaby Bissett

Talks start on extra places for dental students in Ireland

Discussions over how many additional places will be available to medical and dental courses this autumn took place this week.

According to, representatives from universities and the Departments of Higher Education and also Health have come together to discuss plans.

This comes in anticipation of results inflation associated with calculating grades this summer following the pandemic.

Extra student places

Last year, it is estimated that student performance increased by around 4% following grade calculations.

Agreements so far have decided on an additional 3,200 extra places across a spectrum of courses, including health sciences.

Officials are looking to add around 15 to 20 more places in dentistry courses, for example.

Nursing will see a jump of around 185 places. While around 500 extra spots will be introduced across business, economics and finance courses.

Dropped from scheme

In other news, research has found that dentists are dropping out of Ireland’s scheme to provide care for medical card holders.

Data suggests in the past year, around 250 dentists have stopped treating patients with medical cards.

And since 2015, there are 600 fewer dentists involved in the scheme.

This sparks fears that patients with medical conditions or on lower incomes may find it more difficult to access dental care.

Lost faith

Dr Anne O’Neill is the outgoing president of the Irish Dental Association.

‘Over the past number of years, the Irish Dental Association has repeatedly challenged the department to discuss the problems within the sector,’ she said.

‘Most recently with the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS), which has not happened.

‘So what we need to see now is action. Because up to this point, dentists have lost faith in the ability of the Department of Health to listen to the dental profession and bring about real and substantive change for the good of patients.

‘We must ensure that it is the patient who is prioritised.’