Research-active staff numbers drop

clinical academic
Clinical academic staff numbers have dropped according to recent figures

The number of clinical academics on research and scholarship pathways has dropped according to the Dental Schools Council.

Concerns have now been raised over the difficulties in recruitment for the posts, after numbers reached an all-time low of 344 full-time equivalents (FTE) around the UK’s 18 publicly funded dental schools, according to the Dental Schools Council.

In response some schools have appointed staff in teaching and scholarship roles, with 239 people filling these roles in 2015, 60% higher than five years ago.

‘Potential imbalance’

‘A key role of dental schools is to provide education that is grounded in research,’ Professor Callum Youngson, chair of the Dental Schools Council, said.

‘This academic basis is just as essential for the majority of graduates who will go into general dental practice as it is for those who will go into academia.

‘We are now risking the balance necessary to produce graduates with the skills needed for a profession, which is always changing.

‘As well as this, the loss of research-active expertise at the early career stage will in time mean a lack of such expertise at the later stages, including in leadership positions.

‘It is essential for the profession that we avoid this potential imbalance.’

The survey also found:

  • The majority of funding for dental clinical academic posts is from the four Higher Education Funding Councils (74%)
  • Nearly one third of clinical academic dentists are specialists in restorative dentistry (28%)
  • Half of the clinical academic workforce is aged under 46
  • Women make up 41% of the clinical academic workforce. There are more women lecturers than men (57%) for the first time, although women remain under represented at professorial grade (20%).

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