South Australian Government Does Not Value Dental School and Researchers
The Australian Dental Association (SA Branch) is disappointed that the State Government and the University of Adelaide could not come to agreement over the development of new arrangements for the education and training of dental and oral health students.
It appears this failure to agree on terms has led to the Government's unprecedented move to seek tenders from all Universities in Australia to do the task.
All parties had led ADASA to believe that an agreement was close but now the State Government has created a further delay and a new process that must be undertaken before a decision is made.
The ADASA had understood that there was a strong resolve by the University of Adelaide to develop a joint State-University clinical and research facility that improved efficiencies and met the training requirements of the Dental Board of Australia through its accreditation partner the Australian Dental Council.
Dr Jack Gaffey, spokesman for the ADA, said “The State Government has put the best ranked Dental School for research in the country at risk with this foolish decision”
“You can’t buy a top ranked Dental School but you sure can ruin it with short sighted choices. How do you spend billions on a new hospital, SAHMRI and other research facilities and then jeopardise world class Dental Research in South Australia? It is simply ludicrous”
“The SA Government has now decided to give an equal opportunity to other Universities which have never been involved in this highly specialised field or said they wanted to be. It’s not a fish and chip shop. You can’t whip one up overnight”
Dr Gaffey continued: “This is a bizarre move by the Government to attempt to change the training of dental professionals by opening a new shop down the road. It’s not what this State needs right now. The students don’t need their training disrupted and the staffing of a new school would be very difficult. And that is only the beginning of the risks and challenges of starting a Dental School from scratch. Who is speaking up for the students who study for years to get their degree in a highly specialised field? Does the Minister care what happens to them while their studies are put in limbo?”
He added that if another school opened, the Adelaide University Dental School would no longer be viable. This would lead to the loss of over 90 years of accumulated intellectual property, clinical expertise and research excellence. “The ADA SA Branch does not support trashing an international brand such as the Adelaide Dental School he said. The ADA SA calls on the Minister to publicly release estimates of what this new funding arrangement will potentially save South Australia. “We would like to know the value the State Government puts on our top dental teaching and research body.”
The University of Adelaide has been educating and training dental practitioners for over 90 years. The ADA believes it would pose major challenges for a new institution to provide a similar operation.
The University of Adelaide has recently built a Simulation Laboratory at a cost of $7million which is a vital element in teaching. The ADA was hoping that any new facility would be near this laboratory and not located at a distant site, such as the West End Biomedical precinct. It is now possible that if, for example, the University of SA won the tender, that this facility would be lost or it would have to be duplicated, presumably at the University of SA’s West End campus or the new building they have planned for that area.
The ADA acknowledges the long history of excellence in teaching and research at the Dental School in the University of Adelaide which has led to the school being the predominant school in Australia. The accumulated wealth of knowledge and intellectual property in these courses would be lost. There would be enormous challenges to a new school to maintain this standard. The ADA would require
- A commitment to housing all departments within dentistry at the same location – currently the school is split over five locations.
- Equivalent training facilities for students - the simulation clinic and the patient clinics.
- Adequate education facilities – lecture and tutorial rooms, library facilities
- Research facilities at least the equivalent of the existing.
- A commitment to specialist training – also requiring clinics and research access
- Experienced staff.
- The provision of continuing professional development for the State’s dental practitioners.
- A location that is accessible for patients and safe for students, especially those who come from overseas to study.
- Accreditation of the courses and facilities.
- Access to eligible patients.
- A long-term commitment to dental education and training.
- A seamless transition for existing students from one system to the other.
Australian Dental Association (SA Branch) Inc
ADASA is thepeak professional body in South Australia representing dentists and the interests of the public in oral health.
A branch of the Austrlain Dental Assocation (Inc).
The ADASA aims:
- To promote ethical standards in dentistry
- To improve the oral and general health of the community
- To advance the science and practice of dentistry
- To advance and foster the interests of members
Mr Peter Gardner