Across the globe, many schools are seeing international enrolments on dentistry courses increasing. In Canada, for example, Lidia DiNicolo from Toronto College of Dental Hygiene and Auxiliaries Inc. and Vancouver College of Dental Hygiene both with a growing overseas student population explains that “in 2010, the national competencies for entry-level dental hygienists were introduced. Schools added new components, such as courses in practice management and more community placements to meet these competencies.” Interestingly, at the Vancouver school, DiNicolo affirms, “We have many students who are dentists in other countries (India, China, Iran, the Philippines) whose credentials are not recognised in Canada. They choose to do the dental hygiene programme to stay in the field they know or to gain experience.”
At both schools, accredited by the Commission of Dental Hygiene of Canada, students can become qualified dental hygienists in 19 months. They are required to have English proficiency and to have completed a number of first-year university courses as prerequisites. “In the first year, students practise on mannequins and then on their student partners,” DiNicolo enthuses. “And in the second year, the students will see a variety of clients in our 26-chair dental clinic.”
Meanwhile, at the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry in the USA, the postgraduate Advanced Programs for International Dentists are designed for overseas students who plan to practise dentistry outside the USA after their studies. The courses offer training in a range of areas, including implant dentistry, orthodontics and oral surgery and medicine (in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland).
“Recognising that global access to programmes is important for international students, the programme expanded in 2000 to include 70 international students,” relates Dolores Spinelli at the school. “Today these programmes attract 100-to-120 international oral health professionals annually from 35-to-40 countries.” Another distinguishing factor the school possesses is “the amount of clinical experience each student will have during his/her time at [the school]”, Spinelli enthuses. And to enrol on courses, varying from one, two or three years in length, entry requirements include certified copies of degree transcripts in English and an Ielts score of at least 6.5.
In the UK, overseas students on dentistry courses can make up a maximum of five per cent of total class numbers and the country offers many worthwhile courses. Birmingham Metropolitan College, for example, has offered dental courses for more than 40 years that have a strong vocational element, according to Geoff French. Lecturing staff on the foundation degree (FDSc) in Dental Technology “have commercial experience of the work place and bring this experience to their teaching”, French says, adding, “The FDSc, written by Manchester Metropolitan University, is now offered in Birmingham, and we plan to offer the full BSc (bachelor of science) in Dental Technology.” The school also offers a Btec extended diploma in Dental Technology lasting two years, covering medical emergencies and dental radiology, among other components. “We have students from all over the world on the dental courses we offer,” French attests. “Because of the technical and medical content of the courses, it is important that all students have good English language skills.”
And the UCL Eastman Dental Institute, also in the UK, has run postgraduate training courses for over 60 years and also enjoys strong international applications, as Andrew Eder highlights. Offering a range of postgraduate certificates, such as Dental Sedation and Pain Management; diplomas, such as Endodontic Practice; master degrees, such as an MSc in Conservative Dentistry; and research degree courses, “Programmes are heavily focussed on hands-on clinical training and we have state-of-the-art facilities,” says Eder.
At the Western Australian Institute of Further Studies (Waifs) in Perth, Australia, too, “Our labs contain modern equipment and a large variety of materials used by the dental practices,” says Cristina Pomana, adding, “Students are exposed to the real world by learning the theory and practical skills in a simulated environment.” The school offers a certificate III in Dental Assisting (32 weeks), certificate IV in Dental Assisting (20 weeks) and a one-year diploma in Dental Technology. Pomana adds that “no single nationality comprises greater than 26 per cent of total numbers”, and that “we have multiple dentists on staff who write our programmes in consultation with the industry.” All students undertaking study in Australia at certificate III must demonstrate an Ielts score of 4.5, she says, adding that ESL support and specialised English language programmes are available.
Recruitment wise, the Western Australian Institute of Further Studies (Waifs) has “an extensive agent network worldwide”, as Cristina Pomana at the school highlights. “Since our inception, Waifs has had a focus towards maintaining a balance of local and international students.” In the same vein, Birmingham Metropolitan University is always “seeking to expand our reputable and licenced agent network”, as Geoff French, Head of International Business, explains, and is also “using its website, Facebook and Twitter to promote courses internationally and engage with potential international students”.
And at New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry, Dolores Spinelli says, “Alumni are our best recruiters we have a robust network of over 1,000 alumni who are responsible for referring almost 50 per cent of our class each year. NYU also hosts a number of events each year for prospective students, including our ‘visit us day’.”