Updated 16th December 2019 to include new information about impact of Brexit.

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.

EU-qualified dentists will definitely have the right to work in the UK if they have already received their qualification. There is some indication that future graduates will also enjoy this protection but we cannot take any responsibility for the accuracy of information that may change in the somewhat unpredictable future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Does it make sense to study dentistry abroad?

Yes, but...

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 often successful. 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 for all candidates and also has a Spanish language test even though the degree is taught fully in English. Both of these tests have no bearing on your chance of getting an offer but they must be taken.

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 B2 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. Also, there is some doubt about the long-term availability of this finance option.

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 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. The University of Zagrebin Croatia has recently started teaching a six-year degree in dentistry taught fully in English and we will be assisting students in applying there in 2019.

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 Madrid and Universidad Catolica de 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. Recent graduates from Spanish universities have encountered no difficulty when returning to the UK to work.

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.

Some thoughts from dentistry students at overseas universities

Will Anthony

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About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.