DENTAL student places at regional universities, including Orange, must be expanded, according to Charles Sturt University Vice Chancellor, professor Andrew Vann.
Professor Vann said a proposal by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) to restrict the number of Australian students enrolling in dental programs would be detrimental to rural communities.
“The ADA’s position is dangerous for rural communities, which Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows have access to about half the number of dentists per person than major cities,” he said.
Professor Vann said a move by the city-based medical profession in the 1990s to restrict the number of doctors in rural areas had a negative flow-on effect for patients living in rural areas in the years that followed.
“This decision seriously exacerbated the chronic shortages of doctors in rural and regional areas, and capping dental student places in Australia would have the same devastating effect,” he said.
Professor Vann disputes recent claims aired on Prime 7 News that one in five dental students graduating this year will face unemployment.
“In fact, the most recent report of the Graduate Careers Council of Australia showed that 97.5 per cent of all dental graduates in Australia were in full-time or part-time work within four months of graduation,” he said.
“Dental graduates continue to enjoy one of the highest rates of employment of any profession in the country and have had the highest median starting salary for university graduates for the last five years.”
Charles Sturt University has invited ADA president Dr Karin Alexander to tour rural, regional and indigenous communities as its guest to gain first-hand experience of the dental situation in the region.