Scottish dental schools will not admit new students for 2021, after final year students from 2020 are yet to graduate because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Universities Scotland said the decision had been made in light of the fact pre-existing students were unable to graduate due to a lack of practical clinical experience.

Any course offers made to students will be deferred until 2022.

A Universities Scotland spokesman said: “The requirement of current dental students to repeat the 2020-21 academic year in order to complete the vital clinical training required to qualify as dentists has the additional sad knock-on effect of preventing Scotland’s dental schools from admitting a new cohort of dental students as anticipated in September 2021.

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“Dentistry is an area which has been particularly badly hit by the Covid pandemic, due to the risk of spread of the virus via aerosol transmission. This has severely limited clinical training.

“All applicants who interviewed for September 2021 entry will still receive a final decision on their interview by May 20 2021, but any offers made this year will be for a deferred start date of September 2022.

“Our sympathies go out to these incoming students who, like so many people, are having their life plans severely disrupted.”

Dental students being forced to repeat their final year are to be given a bursary by the Scottish Government.

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Dental schools in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh have taken the decision to defer graduation for those in their final year, citing a lack of practical clinical experience.

Graduation for students in Aberdeen has been deferred to the winter, while their counterparts in Glasgow and Edinburgh will not complete their studies until next summer.

Scottish public health minister Mairi Gougeon previously announced those affected will be eligible for a bursary that is equal to the level of their student loans, totalling between £4,750 and £6,750, while also being able to apply for other types of support.