RCSI reaches collaborative curriculum agreement with Peninsula Dental School

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Colleagues at the RCSI and Peninsula announcement.

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences has secured a long-term collaborative agreement with Peninsula Dental School (PDS), University of Plymouth. This partnership will support RCSI in delivering a new undergraduate Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree programme. This will be the first community-based undergraduate dentistry degree programme in Ireland.

The new Bachelor of Dental Surgery is a five-year programme that will increase the number of dentists that qualify in Ireland each year. RCSI will welcome the first student intake in September 2025 (subject to regulatory approvals) and will qualify the first cohort of dentists in the summer of 2030.

Ireland currently has 44 dentists per 100,000 of the population. This is significantly fewer than comparable European countries, some of which have double the number. This shortage of dentists is impacting adversely across Ireland, where many patients find it difficult to access any dental care.

Recognising the need to increase the number of dentists in Ireland, the government issued a competition for a new undergraduate programme in dentistry through the Higher Education Authority in 2022. RCSI emerged successful, with government support to launch a new programme.

Peninsula Dental School’s award-winning programme, established over many years, offers an innovative approach to dentistry education, combining first-rate dental training with outstanding community dental care. It was recognised by the Times Higher Education Awards 2023, ranking first in the 'Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community' category, and The Guardian in 2024 as the top-ranked dental school in the UK.

Focusing training solely in primary care, PDS was the first dental school to bring meaningful NHS patient contact to students from the earliest months of their course, as well as embedding community engagement within the curriculum. It was also the first to train a variety of dental-care professionals side by side, reflecting the reality of dental practice.


Through RCSI’s partnership with PDS, the RCSI BDS programme will adopt a community-based approach to dental education. RCSI’s modern, comprehensive and bespoke curriculum is designed to equip graduates to deliver excellence in dental care for patients in a primary care setting, improving their oral and general health near where they live.

This community-based approach has particular benefits for people in underprivileged communities who often struggle to access dental care. It provides a holistic and rich learning experience for students, and perhaps instils a desire to practise in the community following their graduation.

Professor Cathal Kelly, Vice-Chancellor, RCSI, said: “The RCSI mission 'to educate, nurture and discover for the benefit of human health' informs and guides our strategic vision. Our commitment to launching a Bachelor of Dental Surgery programme reflects the importance of dentistry to human health and the key imperative of increasing access to dental care for communities across Ireland.”

Professor Dafydd Moore, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Plymouth, who signed the curriculum agreement on behalf of the University of Plymouth, said: “We at Plymouth are very proud of our dental school and the impact it has had not only on the learning outcomes for our students, but the healthcare it has provided for our local community. We are pleased and humbled now to see this impact extend to the new course at RCSI and hope that staff, students and the local community here will benefit from its success.

RCSI has a strong heritage in dental education and training, having run an undergraduate dentistry programme between 1878-1977, granting a Licentiate in Dental Surgery (LDSRCSI) practicing qualification and appointing the first Professor of Dentistry in England or Ireland in 1884.