15th August 2016: For information about opportunities available in clearing 2016 and for more specific advice if you are considering studying dentistry abroad for the first time, please visit our blog.
Will my foreign dentistry degree be recognised?
This is a highly important consideration when choosing to study dentistry abroad. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information that we give you in this respect and so would advise you to check with General Dental Council about the suitability of any particular university's dentistry qualifications.
However, we can confirm that there are many dental schools around the world that specialise in teaching international students. Many of these universities' graduates are working in the UK healthcare sector although often they may have amassed considerable experience abroad in addition to their studies.
We certainly know universities whose qualifications are recognised by the GDC, and whose quality of teaching is recognised worldwide. These universities are not soft options; going abroad is not recommended under any circumstances to students who would be incapable of following a UK dental degree.
Does it make sense to study dentistry abroad?
Let's be honest, most British students who go abroad to study dentistry have first of all tried to get in to a dental school in this country. As you will no doubt know by now, there are far more students who wish to study dentistry than there are places available. Even the best exam results you could ever achieve may not be enough to get you a place and a lot of people miss out for reasons that are not a reflection on their ability or passion for the profession. Students who miss out are often encourage to reapply; this just adds to the pressure for places year on year and while it may be an advisable strategy as it gives you time to gain additional experience, it is not the only one. You don't need to put your life on hold because of the British university admissions system.
If you are passionate about becoming a dentist and you want to get straight on with your studies, there are universities abroad that can help you. You need to be careful in your choice of university but there are some highly reputable dental schools that can help you achieve your dream and your objectives.
What grades do I need to get in?
Good ones. And often these will not be enough. The main reason why we say this is because it is tough to follow a dental degree abroad and you must be academically capable. Otherwise you will be wasting your time. Some dental universities will accept you with less than perfect grades if they perceive that you have a passion for the subject and you can demonstrate your ability in other ways.
The actual entrance requirements vary quite dramatically. Universities in Central Europe often have their own entrance exams. These are typically a multiple choice exam on chemistry and biology. If you can get a good grade at A' level in these subjects you shouldn't have any trouble passing the exam. Some exams will also include a paper on maths and/or physics. We do not work with any universities that accept BTECs. To the best of our knowledge these are only accepted in Bulgaria and Romania within the European Union although this might change. If you have the IB or Irish Leaving Certificate, a grade equivalent to 70% of the maximum would certainly give you access to the best dental schools, subject to place availability of course.
Most universities abroad select purely on academic criteria and there is usually no requirement to attend an interview.
Universidad Europea de Madrid is accepting British students without the need to sit a formal entrance exam. However, the university introduced a psychometric test in 2015 because of the sheer quantity of applicants in 2014. The course is now full for 2016.
What else should I bear in mind if I want to study dentistry abroad?
If you go abroad, you might very well be able to study in English but you cannot expect your patients to speak English. This is not an issue in the pre-clinical years but you will be expected to learn the local language by the time you enter your fourth year (at the latest). You may have to sign an agreement to learn the language when you first join the university. The standard required is usually B1 on the European framework. Some universities will ensure that a translator is present during any patient consultations but you will be expected to communicate with your patients.
Can I get financial support to study dentistry abroad?
Almost certainly not. You will not be able to access British student loans. Some universities will have financial aid available or will be able to suggest local banks who may be willing to lend you the money for your studies. Such loans will be on commercial terms that will be different from British student loans. Many students are attracted to Bulgaria because student loans may be available there. However, these are more like regular bank loans than student loans in the UK so we would advise you to check the terms and conditions very carefully.
Where should I look for dentistry degrees abroad?
The main area for dental schools abroad is Central Europe. You may well know that many British citizens travel to places like Budapest for major dental surgery as it is much cheaper than in the UK. The quality of central European dentists is well known and their reputation is well deserved. You can search our database for courses in dentistry.
Dental schools in Central Europe have developed an excellent reputation over the last 20 years of offering education in English. All qualifications taught within the European Union should be judged as equal but it is worth checking with the GDC as they will know more about the relative quality of dental qualifications than we or an education agent can. It is also worth pointing out that many Central European dental schools offer six-year degrees that are of a higher standing than the five-year offering at British dental schools.
There are currently about 20 universities offering dentistry degrees in English in Central Europe. Another option is to study in Spain where Universidad Europea in Valencia teaches dentistry in English (however, they currently only offer the first three years in English - you will have to finish your degree in the Spanish language). Universidad Europea in Madrid and Cardenal Herrera University in Valencia offer dentistry degrees taught entirely in English but in any case you will have to learn Spanish well enough to deal with patients when you enter the practical phase of your studies. It is too early to give too much of an indication on career prospects for Spanish-trained dentists returning to the UK. The first graduates from Cardenal Herrera have only just completed their studies. Over the next two years it ought to be possible to see how these students reintegrate into the UK dental profession if indeed this is what they choose to do. From 2016, Universidad Catolica de Valencia is offering dentistry entirely in the English language. There is a limited number of places on this course but we can assist students of any nationality in applying there.
Studying dentistry in Australia or New Zealand is possible but it will be expensive and your chances of getting in are very low. Most countries in the Anglophone world have a shortage of places in their dental schools. In the US and Canada dentistry is only offered at the graduate-entry level.
There are also options in the Caribbean.