BDS will be a five-year course Students have to pay fee for an additional year Internship converted into an academic year BANGALORE: Dental students will have to grin and bear it for one more year when duration of the Bachelor of Dental Sciences course will be extended from four to five years, converting the one-year internship into an academic year, from 2008. While the Government has completed its negotiations regarding the seat matrix and fee structures, there has been no mention or announcement regarding the extension of course duration. The Union Government issued a gazette notification to all State governments in September last stating that the academic course would be extended to five years, thereby implying that the fifth year of internship would be converted to an academic year. This means the students will have to pay fees for five years instead of four, and they cannot look forward to earning stipends during their internship. According to the current fee structure, students in government dental colleges have to pay Rs. 25,000 a year and those in private colleges up to Rs. 2.3 lakh a year. An extension of the course will translate into an extension of the fee burden on students. Universities have issued notifications to dental colleges in this regard, but there was no mention of this development in the discussions on fee structures held this earlier this week. â€œAs an academic, my only worry is whether this will be a stepping stone for colleges to claim course fees for one extra year, thereby burdening the student further. This point should have been discussed and considered before the fee structure was announced,â€ Kumar S., Executive Secretary of the Consortium of Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka, said. â€œThe notification was given to us in September 2007 and we did not want to complicate matters by implementing it after the course had started. It will certainly be implemented from this year,â€ Vasanth Kumar, Registrar of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, said. Having had no debate on this issue, it means that students, from the 2008 batch, will be paying the prescribed fees for all five years. Besides extending the duration and making internship part of the course, the syllabus has also been upgraded. â€œThe course was outdated and had not been revised since the 1983 BDS Regulation. This new syllabus follows the â€˜comprehensive dentistryâ€™ approach and is on par with modern dentistry,â€ Nagesh K.S., Principal of R.V. Dental College and ex-member of Dental Council of India, said. Regarding the termination of the one-year internship, most academics said that internships were not serving their purpose. â€œMany of the ill-equipped colleges were happy with the four-year structure because they did not have adequate tables or facility to give them hands-on training. But the additional year was simply being misused by students as there was no evaluation system for this period,â€ Mr. Kumar said.