tandheelkunde practicum
tandheelkunde practicum

Shortened Dentistry study programme: Ministers ignore negative advice

Ministers Ernst Kuipers of the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport (VWS) and Robbert Dijkgraaf of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW) are forcing universities to shorten the Dentistry study programme from six to five years. In doing so, they are ignoring a negative recommendation from a committee established for this purpose and negative advice from the Dutch Dental Association (KNMT) and the joint Dutch universities (University of Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam, University of Groningen, and Radboud University).

Committee: shortening study programme is irresponsible 

At the request of the VWS and OCW ministries, a committee was established in September 2023 to study the consequences of shortening the study programme. The Committee issued its report on 8 November, concluding that there is no justifiable reason to shorten the study programme. According to the Committee, shortening puts at risk the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of care.

Emergency meeting

In an emergency meeting on Wednesday 29 November, the universities and the KNMT discussed with Minister Kuipers and Minister Dijkgraaf the main conclusion of the investigation: shortening the Dentistry study programme from six to five years would be irresponsible. Despite understanding the underlying arguments, the ministers are ignoring this conclusion. They indicate that due to budget reasons, they see no other option than to shorten the study programme to address the national shortage of dentists. The universities and the KNMT are deeply concerned about this development, which compromises the academic education system.

Joke Kwakman, on behalf of KNMT: “The importance of training enough dentists should be our prime concern, but not at the expense of the study programme's quality. We must train dentists who can start work straight away, and for that, we really need those six years of training. The ministers' decision is very disappointing and also worrying.”

Henri Lohr, on behalf of the universities: “It is unbelievable that precisely at this time, when there are such major concerns about keeping oral care accessible and maintaining quality, people are seeking solutions in curtailing and therefore impairing dentistry training.”

Future-proof study programme content

The universities and the KNMT have both indicated to the two ministers that they are more than willing to think about the content of the training and how to organise it in a future-proof way, without compromising the Dutch academic system. The proposed decision to shorten the study programme was taken in haste, despite the caretaker status of the government and the widely voiced objections from the field and the study programmes.


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