Dental vocational education programmes to close at Health

After a number of years with declining numbers, the volume of students is now so small in the vocational programmes for Dental Surgery Assistant and Dental Technician at the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health that they are no longer viable. Both programmes will therefore close in August 2023.

Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Foto

After almost 50 years with nearly all odontological programmes centralised in the University Park, from August 2023, it will no longer be possible to train as a dental surgery assistant or dental technician at Aarhus University. The critically low number of students has placed the programmes and the finances of the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health under such pressure that the Department has now requested the Danish Ministry of Education to withdraw the Public Procurement Act status of the two programmes.

“Since 2017, we have expressed concern about the low number of students, which means that we cannot run financially sustainable vocational programmes at the University. Therefore, we will not be able to ensure either the high educational quality for which we are known, or an active and beneficial educational environment for our students in the long term. The closure of the two programmes is, unfortunately, a necessity,” says Department Head Siri Beier Jensen.

The programmes for Dental Surgery Assistant and Dental Technician – formerly known as Laboratory Dental Technician – are the only programmes of vocational education at Aarhus University.

The closure is regrettable and a clear paradox

According to Siri Beier Jensen, the closure of the two dental programmes has nothing to do with institutional plans or the reduction in student places in the cities but is solely a matter of the external frameworks and conditions.

Previously, it was only possible to train as a dental surgery assistant in Aarhus or Copenhagen, whereas today there are seven educational institutions offering the programme in Jutland and Fyn alone. The department head is of the opinion that it is the great competition in western Denmark, smaller year groups among the young, the ministerial framework and several reforms that have limited student intake and caused the number of students to fall steadily over the past five years.

Despite a number of initiatives aimed at attracting more students, Siri Beier Jensen says there are no signs that the trend is reversing or that the number of vocational students at the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health will rise again.

“It is deeply regrettable and a clear paradox that we are forced to close down the dental vocational programmes when there is a shortage of dental surgery assistants in Denmark, but under the given circumstances, we have no choice,” she says.

“It has been a difficult but necessary decision to close down the programmes, and it will be a loss for the profession and for dental health in general in Denmark when the programme is no longer available in East Jutland.”

The Aarhus model is losing part of its foundation

Since 2016, the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health has been the only place in the world where all of the dental training programmes were centralised in one department, with the aim of promoting synergies between the programmes and the professions. Internationally, this educational model is known as ‘The Aarhus Model of Dental Education’.

However, with the closure of the Dental Surgery Assistant and Dental Technician programmes, the ‘Aarhus model’ will soon be missing two parts of its foundation.

“For us as a department, and for the whole Aarhus Model of Dental Education, it is a loss and an academic blow that we have to say goodbye to two odontological programmes. We are close to reaping the fruit of the Aarhus model, for which reason the closure is even more painful,” says Siri Beier Jensen, who emphasises:

“It is of course worst for the staff members concerned, who, with great dedication and a high professional standard, have taken on the task of training some of Denmark’s best surgery assistants and dental technicians.”

Together with the Department management team, Siri Beier Jensen will now put all her efforts into making the transition period and the next steps as clear and orderly as possible for all the parties involved.

The Department of Dentistry and Oral Health will continue to train dentists, dental hygienists and clinical dental technicians.


Department Head Siri Beier Jensen
Aarhus University, Department of Dentistry and Oral Health
Mobile: +45 9350 8525