Dentistry ‘dominated by social elite’
Limited progress has been made opening up dentistry to students from lower-socio economic backgrounds, government has been warned.
A report by government advisor on social and former health secretary, Alan Milburn, said the senior ranks of medicine, law, journalism and politics remained a ‘closed shop’.
He said children from average income and middle class families, let alone lower income ones, were ‘losing out’ in the race for professional jobs.
The report said in 2002/03 23% of medical and dental undergraduates were from private school.
It said: ‘By 2010/11 this pattern had barely changed, with 22% still coming from private school. Access remains dominated by those from better-off, often privately educated backgrounds.’
The report adds: ‘If social mobility is to become anything other than a pipedream they will have to open up. Unfortunately, the evidence collected for this report suggests that there is only, at best, limited progress being made in prising open the professions. That is not about to change any time soon.’
The study shows that the next generation of dentists are likely to be a mirror image of previous generations. Data from 2010/11 on those who succeeded in getting a university place shows that little has changed since 2002/03.
The three highest socio-economic groups made up 57% of medical students compared with just 7% from the bottom in 2010/11 compared to 62% and 8% in 2002/03.
In comparison, last year 41% of law undergraduates were from the three highest socio-economic groups and only 21% came from the five lowest groups.
Mr Milburn’s report Fair Access to Professional Careers showed 49% of journalism students came from the highest groups and 14% from the three lowest groups.
Mr Milburn said: ‘Across the professions as a whole, the glass ceiling might have been scratched, but it’s certainly not been broken. At the top especially, the professions remain dominated by the social elite.’
MPs have repeatedly warned government hikes in tuition fees which could see a young dentist qualify with £63,000 in debt were deterring students from lower-socio economic backgrounds from applying for medical based degrees.