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26 January 2006

New dental school to be launched in the South West

A new dental school in the South West and 100 new permanent places for dental students in England were given the go-ahead today. The new dental school will be at the multi-campus Peninsula Medical School, a partnership between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth and the NHS within Devon and Cornwall.

The 100 new dental training places will be spread across three parts of the country. The new Peninsula dental school, with bases in Plymouth, Exeter and Truro, will have places for 62 graduate entry students per year. A joint bid from the universities of Liverpool, Central Lancashire, Lancaster and St Martin's College (Note 1) for dental education in Cumbria and Lancashire will take an extra 32 graduate entry places, and six places will be awarded to the University of Leeds to establish an outreach centre in Hull.

The successful bids were chosen for their innovative approach to dental training, with most places being offered for students who will receive the majority of their clinical teaching in the community, and who already hold a degree or are mature students with a healthcare background (Note 2).

Bill Rammell, Higher Education Minister, said:

"The announcement of 100 dental places is excellent news for all concerned. The Joint Implementation Group received a number of very good quality bids, supported by some very strong presentations. It was only after the most detailed scrutiny and analysis that they finalised their recommendations to the HEFCE Board.

"I am confident that the ground has been laid for major innovation in dental education. In developing a new Peninsula Dental School, Plymouth and Exeter Universities are building on their achievements in medical education by seating the training of dentists within the primary care services in which most of them will work after qualification. The extra provision at Lancashire, Cumbria and Hull is also a real step forward."

Peter Rubin, co-chair of the Joint Implementation Group and HEFCE Board Member, said:

"This decision will enable a completely new and innovative model of dental education to be established and will have significant impact on dental services in areas of high need."

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said:

"I am delighted that the South West peninsula will now have its own dental school and that Liverpool, Lancashire and Hull are all now able to provide more dental places. Historically Cornwall, Lancashire and Hull have all had significantly fewer dentists than the national average. Although we have helped these areas with the recruitment of dentists from overseas, providing facilities for training dentists in these areas offers the best prospect of an enduring solution to these recruitment problems.

"We have been doing much to retain and recruit more dentists to the NHS, and this further expansion in dental training places and the new dental school will ensure we have more dentists in the future."

This announcement is the second stage of a two-part process to increase the number of dentists being trained every year, from approximately 655 in 2004-05 to around 840 from 2005-06, to meet the national need for more dentists.

In the first stage, the Joint Implementation Group (JIG) set up by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Department of Health (DH) allocated 79 permanent places in 2005-06 to existing dental schools and a further 104 places on a temporary basis. This allowed time for a formal bidding process, including the possibility of one or more new dental schools. Bids from universities and their NHS partners were considered against a number of criteria, with geographical need and innovative approaches to teaching being particularly important. The quality of teaching, value for money and widening participation were also significant factors.


HEFCE will allocate 12.4 million for capital development in the new dental school and new dental outreach centres. Additional recurrent funding started at around 1 million with the first intake of additional dental students in 2005-06. Dental training takes five years, or four years for graduate entry. Once all cohorts of students are in place, the additional costs will be around 13 million per year. Additional capital funding will also be made available to existing dental schools to underpin the Phase 1 increase.


1. The bid was from a consortium of the Universities of Liverpool, Central Lancashire and Lancaster and St Martin’s College, with four Teaching Centres to be located in Cumbria and Lancashire at: Blackpool, Carlisle, East Lancashire and Lancaster.

2. The innovative nature of the bids reflects changes in location and intake of students. Conventional dental education generally takes place in dental schools, co-located with dental hospitals, and students generally study for five years. In the Peninsula Dental School and the new places in Cumbria, Lancashire and Hull, dental students will be largely taught in regional outreach centres. This reflects a growing trend for health education to be more community based. Entry to the Peninsula school and in Cumbria and Lancashire will be for graduates, who will therefore study for four years.

3. In July 2004, the Government announced plans to increase the number of dental training places in England from October 2005. Following this, a HEFCE/Department of Health Joint Implementation Group (JIG) was established to advise the HEFCE Board on allocations to universities. The JIG was jointly chaired by Professor Raman Bedi, Chief Dental Officer (until September 2005), Department of Health, and Professor Peter Rubin, HEFCE Board member and Professor of Therapeutics, University of Nottingham. Barry Cockcroft, the Acting Chief Dental Officer, took over as co-chair from October 2005.

4. HEFCE has also agreed to allocate additional places for trainee doctors at medical schools in England. The Joint Implementation Group for medical intakes recommended to the HEFCE Board allocating 108 additional medical numbers: 33 to Peninsula Medical School; 50 to the University of Liverpool in collaboration with Lancaster University, University of Central Lancashire and St Martin’s College; and 25 to the University of East Anglia.

Additional places were allocated in line with NHS workforce requirements, and priority was given to areas of highest NHS need. The regions for which growth was allocated (the SW, E and NW) all have significantly fewer medical students than their populations justify.

Further information on medical and dental education and research.