Record highs for dental schools staffing

Figures published today by the Dental Schools Council show a promising increase in overall staffing numbers to the highest recorded since the first survey of clinical academic dentist levels in 2000.
As at 31 July 2012, there were 566 full-time equivalents (FTE) employed by the 18 dental schools, which represents a 20% increase (+95 FTE) since 2007.

This has occurred in the context of both an increase in dental student numbers due to new schools at Peninsula, Aberdeen and UCLan, and due to the separate reporting of clinical teachers, which accounts for the larger part of the increase (77 FTE).

Data showed funding for clinical academic posts to be split at 78% from the four Higher Education Funding Councils, 17% from the NHS and 5% from research councils, charities and endowments. The positive effect of sustained investments from these bodies, as well as investment into the clinical academic pathway from others such as the National Institute of Health Research and the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, has resulted in tangible improvements.

Key findings of the Dental Schools Council survey as at 31 July 2012 are:

• 28% of clinical academic staff are non-white, compared with 13% in 2004

• Women make up 39% of clinical academic staff, compared with 32% in 2004, and 16% of Professors are women, compared with 11% in 2004

• There were 40 reported FTE vacancies in 2012, a small increase on last year but with 16 of 18 schools reporting difficulties in recruitment, in particular for a range of clinical specialties

• Despite a positive increase in staffing level, there has been a 20% reduction in the number of REF-returnable staff since 2000, and a 10% reduction since 2006

Professor Paul Speight, Chair of the Dental Schools Council, said ‘We are encouraged by the continued growth of total clinical academic dentist levels, this making the fifth consecutive year of growth and affirming the potential of clinical academic dentistry to draw the UK’s brightest candidates. The combination of research and teaching makes it not only an exciting career but also of enormous value to both the skilled dentists who graduate from our schools and the health of the UK as a whole.

‘But there are still issues to be addressed. It’s vital that clinical academic dentistry is sustained and that we ensure this by continuing to promote the significance of clinical academic dentistry. The 20% reduction in research-active clinical academics since 2000 poses a threat to oral and dental research and these numbers must now, at minimum, be sustained and grown. British oral and dental research is among the best in the world, and our schools continue to show a commendable resilience to the changing climates in healthcare.  We will work to ensure their continuing successes in research, innovation and teaching excellence.’


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