CSU says dental oversupply claims misleading

CSU Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann
CSU Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann says talk of an oversupply of dental graduates is dangerous.

Following warnings in mid-January by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) of a pending oversupply of dental graduates and a proposal by the to restrict the number of Australian students enrolling in dental programs, the Vice Chancellor of Charles Sturt University (CSU), Professor Andrew Vann, has spoken out, saying it would hurt rural communities.

The ADA’s warning followed recent figures from the Graduate Careers Council of Australia showing a dramatic drop in the number of dentists in full-time employment—down 10 per cent on previous years. Bite reported on the figures here.

Professor Vann said the ADA’s position was dangerous for rural communities which Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data showed have access to about half the number of dentists per person than people in major cities.

“While the number of dentists in major cities has grown substantially over the last few years, this is not the case in rural and remote areas and city dental graduates continue to shun rural practice,” he said.

“This is the very reason why the Government funded a dental school at CSU.

“Dental student places at regional universities should be expanded, not restricted, so that we can ensure an adequate supply of graduates to rural communities.”

Professor Vann disputed recent claims aired on Prime7 News that one in five dental students graduating this year would face unemployment.

In fact, the most recent report of the Graduate Careers Council of Australia (GCCA) showed that 97.5 per cent of all dental graduates in Australia were in full-time or part-time work within four months of graduation.

“Dental graduates continue to enjoy one of the highest rates of employment of any profession in the country, and have had the highest median starting salary for university graduates for the last five years,” Professor Vann said.

“The idea that one in five graduates will be unemployed is simply wrong.”

Professor Vann warned that the Health and Education ministers must be very careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past in rural health workforce planning.

“In the 1990s city medical professionals argued that there would be an oversupply of doctors in Australia and the government acted to restrict the number of medical graduates, which seriously exacerbated the chronic shortages of doctors in rural and regional areas,” he said.

“Capping dental student places in Australia would have the same devastating effect on rural and regional communities.  It is a dangerous proposal that ignores the needs of rural and regional Australians.”

Charles Sturt University has invited ADA president Dr Karin Alexander to tour rural, regional and Indigenous communities as its guest to get a first-hand look at the situation.


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  1. Of course Andrew is going to make this claim; his first cohort of dental students haven’t even graduated yet.
    He should survey his own dental students when they graduate because most of them will be facing unemployment!

  2. Creating large numbers of dentists unable to achieve satisfactory employment in cities is one means by which country areas may be serviced. Professor Vann decries past mistakes in planning by Health and Education Ministers but surely must recognise oversupply is poor planning. Instead of “STICK” a much nicer “CARROT” could be created to entice dentists to enjoy the extra benefits of rural practice.

  3. For Andrew to suggest that it is in the public interest to continue to oversupply the dental workforce there can be only one of two reasons: ignorance or self-interest.
    Every dentist knows that an oversupply of dentists leads to overtreatment and this is not in the best interest of the general public either rural or metropolitan
    There is plenty of evidence to show that the poorer dental health in rural and rmote areas is not due to a lack of dentists.

  4. Luckily our university has more honest lecturers who have been warning us things will not be easy when we graduate, however even they don’t have the power to change the education machine ruining the career prospects of everyone who attends university. Why don’t they just cut to the chase and send people from year 7 to university, the way things are going a degree will be worth about as much as a high school certificate.

    University has become just another business and listening to this is like hearing the boss tell you it’s been a hard year after he bought a new Mercedes. Just the other day we heard our funding is being cut and we have not money left in our budget to treat public patients, so we are a dental school with a dwindling pool of patients and experience.

    Despite a doubling of students in our cohort support staff are dropping off like flies and students are struggling to meet quotas and gain professional experience. So look forward to the next generation of dentists who’s clinical experience has been cut in half, I suppose that won’t matter though if we can’t get jobs anyway.

    Oh and then there is another dental university opening at bond uni on the gold coast! What kind of morons approve three dental universities within an hours drive of each other, the combined output with increased intakes will result in 2-300 at lead graduates coming out in Australia concentrated in metropolitan southern Queensland, what a great way to increase the number or rural dentists by ruining the careers of every other dentist in a metropolitan area.

  5. The problem is two fold; 1 the community need for dental treatment does not translate into demand for dental services (recently I went to a liquor outlet and saw two of my patients who “can’t afford dental treatment” pushing out their own shopping trolley load full of expensive purchases 2. Universities recruit the wrong students to fill the gaps in rural locations Selecting the students with the highest marks and the richest parents ensures they return to city ghettos when they graduate. The need for an extra 200 dentists in rural zones could be solved by targeting towns without a dentist and offering a scholarship to a local resident.


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