Media Release: New dental course to help fill gaps

Dental technology students Marc Buchan from Peterhead and Sally Trusser from Alness

AN innovative new course launched in Aberdeen today (Thursday 7 February) hopes to plug the gaps in Scotland’s dental training and provision.

The diploma in dental technology will use a range of learning methods to serve students who live in remote and rural areas and who are already in full-time employment.

Previously, people studying for a qualification in dental technology had to travel to Edinburgh on a weekly basis, meaning many potential students from remote areas were put off because of the time and costs involved.

The new higher education diploma, open to those employed as dental technician trainees, includes a mix of online, workplace and face-to-face elements.

Students will study the course on a part-time basis over three years with workplace supervision from a registered dental technician.

As well as online elements, the programme also includes two days’ attendance at the state-of-the-art University of Aberdeen Dental School and Hospital each month.

Modules on the course include dental laboratory skills, anatomy and physiology, orthodontic technology and designing and manufacturing dental appliances.

The diploma has been developed through a collaboration between the University of the Highlands and Islands, the University of Aberdeen Dental School and Hospital, NHS Grampian and NHS Education for Scotland.

It will be delivered by the University of the Highlands and Islands, which due to the dispersed nature of its campus, already provides many of its programmes through the ‘blended learning’ approach.

The course will complement the university’s oral health science degree which offers a route to careers in dental hygiene and dental therapy.

Dental technicians, who manufacture, repair and provide advice on custom-made dental appliances, work in hospitals, dental laboratories and the armed forces.

Following the government’s drive to increase the number of dentists in Scotland, there is now a need for more technicians to support them and, with many current technicians approaching retirement, an even greater shortfall is expected in the profession.

Speaking about the diploma, course leader, Keith Ewan, said: “We are really excited to be launching this innovative course which will enable dental technicians to further their careers.

“A qualified and registered dental technician can go on to access a degree in dental technology, open their own laboratory or dental surgery and employ other dental registrants, including dental surgeons.

“Without the qualification, a trainee cannot work legally as the term ‘dental technician’ is a protected title.”

Ian Leslie, dean of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ faculty of science, health and education, said: “This innovative course provides education in dental technology for students in the North region of Scotland and beyond.

“Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and will be supported by expertise from lecturers in various specialities on site, through a virtual learning environment and in the workplace.”

Graham Orr, director of postgraduate education at NHS Education for Scotland, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to launch this qualification. It is an example of highly successful co-operation between a number of stakeholders that secures provision of dental technology training in Scotland.”

Ray Watkins, head of health improvement and a consultant in dental public health at NHS Grampian, added: “This new course will further expand dental teaching in Grampian and the North of Scotland.”

To find out more about the University of the Highlands and Islands’ diploma in dental technology, contact Claire Hay on or 01343 576 000.


Notes to editors:

The delivery of the new dental technology diploma will be led by Moray College UHI. Moray College UHI is one of a number of partners in the University of the Highlands and Islands Partnership.

The University of the Highlands and Islands comprises thirteen further and higher education colleges, specialist colleges and research institutions, distributed throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. They are bound together through constitutional, management and academic structures, and co-ordinated through an executive office. Collectively, this is referred to as the UHI partnership.

There are currently over 7,500 students studying on undergraduate and postgraduate courses or undertaking postgraduate research with the University.

The University of the Highlands and Islands is the only university with campuses and headquarters based in the Highlands and Islands. Its mission is to strengthen and develop the social, economic and cultural prospects of the region. It uses a blend of learning methods, including traditional classroom face-to-face teaching, video-conferencing tutorials and lectures and virtual learning environments and other IT media.

The University of the Highlands and Islands is a limited company registered in Scotland No. 148203. Scottish charity No. SC022228. Registered office: 12B, Ness Walk, Inverness, IV3 5SQ.

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