Funding arrangements for university students entering courses will undergo a major change from 2006. From that date, universities will be able to charge students up to £3,000 in tuition fees as a contribution to their education. Dental students may be disproportionately affected by the resulting debt because they will have less opportunity than those in other courses to earn money during a long summer vacation. In addition, dental and medical courses are longer in duration than the typical three year British degree course. We have outlined the major changes in these funding arrangements. Drawing on our experience in the United States and elsewhere in the world, we suggest that further large increases in university tuition fees seem inevitable. A major consequence of rising student debt may be denial of entry into the dental profession of the more disadvantaged in our community. Urgent research and planning needs to be done in advance so that this unpleasant scenario is prevented.
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