Indian dental revamp to bring mandatory graduate test

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Indian dental revamp to make graduate test mandatory

The National Dental Commission Bill 2023 cleared India’s Rajya Sabha on 8 August and will bring major changes for dental education in the country. (Image: Maneesh Agnihotri/Shutterstock)

NEW DELHI, India: New regulations for the dental profession in India will mean that all BDS graduates will have to pass a dental National Exit Test (NExT-Dental) as a prerequisite for licensure to practise dentistry in India and for admission to postgraduate dental programmes. The National Dental Commission Bill 2023 also proposes to replace the Dental Council of India with the National Dental Commission (NDC) as the country’s top regulatory body for dental education.

The bill was passed on 8 August in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament. It repeals the Dentists Act of 1948 and aims to make dental education in the country more affordable and to improve access to oral healthcare.

According to The Hindu, the yet to be established NDC will become the top regulator of dental education in India and will begin conducting the NExT-Dental examinations within three years of the bill becoming law. Dr G.C. Rajkumar, head of Vokkaligara Sangha Dental College and Hospital in Bengaluru, told the newspaper: “If you want to maintain quality of dental education, NExT is the best option. However, to avoid last-minute confusion, the government should provide complete information and enough time for students before implementing it.”

Holders of dental degrees gained outside India will be required to pass the examination before practising dentistry in the country.

In July, Indian students and their families demanded the postponement of a similar licensure examination for medical students, arguing that the newly introduced test should not be mandatory for graduates who began their studies before the uniformity standard was imposed.

The National Dental Commission Bill 2023 and what it will change

The bill amounts to an overhaul of the way in which dental education is organised and governed in India. Some of the key changes include:

  • the establishment of the NDC, which will control fees for 50% of the places in private dental schools, oversee educational quality standards, improve access to dental education and impose uniformity in academic examinations;
  • the creation of a state dental council structure and a dental advisory council that will be made up of representatives from all the Indian states;
  • the creation of three autonomous boards to oversee dental education (Undergraduate and Postgraduate Dental Education Board, Dental Assessment and Rating Board, and Ethics and Dental Registration Board);
  • the creation of an online register of licensed dentists;
  • the facilitation of increased collaboration between dental and other Indian healthcare bodies; and
  • the facilitation of increased participation between the dental industry and dental education institutes in order to advance dental research and innovation.
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