Political agreement concluded: Health will educate more dentists

The Ministry of Higher Education and Science has just approved a plan by the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health to increase its intake of students in order to meet the shortage of dentists across Denmark. The agreement means that Aarhus University will admit 15 more dentistry students a year in 2023-2026 and will be given more than sixty million kroner with which to realise this.

Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Foto

In March, the government and a number of other bodies decided to earmark DKK 125 million to increase the admission of students to the dentistry programmes in both Aarhus and Copenhagen, rather than establish a third dentistry programme. Since then, Siri Beier Jensen, Head of the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health and Dean Anne-Mette Hvas, together with their counterparts from the University of Copenhagen, have been negotiating with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science on how such an agreement on increased student intake and distribution of the earmarked funds should be realised.

Minister of Higher Education and Science Jesper Petersen has now approved the universities’ proposals. For Aarhus University, this means that, from 2023 and the following four years, we will increase our annual intake by 15 dental students to a total of 100 dentistry students a year. The Department will receive DKK 62.5 million over the next eight years to implement the increased intake. Head of Department Siri Beier Jensen is very satisfied with the agreement:

“It is a good agreement which will help to secure the framework to bear the quality of education and a financially sustainable dental training programme for a number of years, which was crucial for us,” she says.

We have the dental units, but lack the staff

According to Siri Beier Jensen, the department already has the necessary facilities to be able to educate more students over the next few years, but the increased intake means that the department is now gearing up its academic staffing at associate professor and professor level.

“We have the clinic chairs, simulation clinics, patients and teaching rooms that we need. So, it’s a question of using our rooms and our equipment in the most appropriate way, and we’re already good at this type of planning,” says the department head, but emphasises:

“Gaining more academic staff for research and teaching on the Dentistry degree programme is, on the other hand, crucial in order for us to be able to solve the task we have been given, and to educate skilled dentists to take care of the public’s dental treatment needs in the future.”

140 new dentists from AU and UCPH annually

From 2027, the plan is for admissions to the Dentistry degree programme in Aarhus to have returned to the current level of 85 students a year. Siri Beier Jensen does not dare to predict whether this will actually be the case, but she is pleased that the Dentistry degree programme and the dental health of the population have received political attention.

“It’s been a long, tough haul, but I’m very pleased that the work has borne fruit – both for us as a department, and for all the dentistry programmes in Denmark. It has been a very positive collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and education and The Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science.”

The University of Copenhagen will also receive DKK 62.5 million, and will increase their intake with as many dentistry students as Aarhus University over three years. In this way, the two universities will be able to train around 140 new dentists a year.

DKK 40 million for regional anchoring of the degree programme

Even though the original proposal to set up a third dentistry programme in Denmark was brushed aside, the government still has a vision of increased regionalization of education in Denmark and thus also of sub-elements of the current dental education. Accordingly, DKK 40 million has been earmarked for development work to find out whether and how parts of the teaching could take place outside the big university towns. The wish is to allow parts of the Dentistry programme to take place in parts of the country where there is currently a shortage of dentists.

Aarhus University is participating in this work together the Danish Agency for Education and Research, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Danish Health Authority, University of Copenhagen, Aalborg University, the University of Southern Denmark and all the trade unions. Several meetings have been scheduled for the coming twelve months, and the development group will have an education proposal ready by October of next year.


Department Head Siri Beier Jensen
Aarhus University, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health
Mobile: (+45) 9350 8525
E-mail: siri@dent.au.dk