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Standards of Education

15 December, 2022

The Standards for Education

Our Standards for Education have 3 standards and 21 requirements which apply to all UK dental education and training programmes leading to registration with the GDC as a dentist or dental care professional (DCP).  The Standards are the regulatory tool used by us to ensure that a programme is fit for purpose. The Standards are central to our quality assurance processes.

The Standards outline three areas that we expect education and training providers to address in their training programmes so that students and trainees who are awarded the qualification can then register to practise in the UK. These areas are: 

Standard 1 – Protecting patients (Requirements 1-8). 
This standard states that providers must be aware of their duty to protect the public. Providers must ensure that patient safety is paramount and care of patients is of an appropriate standard. Any risk to the safety of patients and their care by students must be minimised.

Standard 2 – Quality evaluation and review of the programme (Requirements 9-12). This standard states that providers must have in place effective policies and procedures for the monitoring and review of their programmes.

Standard 3 – Student assessment (Requirements 13-21). This standard states that a programme’s assessment must be reliable and valid. The choice of assessment method must be appropriate to demonstrate achievement of the GDC Learning Outcomes. Assessors must be fit to perform the assessment task.

Assessing providers against the standards

In assessing education providers’ compliance with these standards, we determine whether the ‘requirements’ that sit under each standard are ‘met’, ‘partly met’ or ‘not met’. 

A Requirement is met if: 

‘There is sufficient appropriate evidence derived from the inspection process. This evidence provides the education associates with broad confidence that the provider demonstrates the Requirement. Information gathered through meetings with staff and students is supportive of documentary evidence and the evidence is robust, consistent and not contradictory. There may be minor deficiencies in the evidence supplied but these are likely to be inconsequential.’ 

A Requirement is partly met if: 

‘Evidence derived from the inspection process is either incomplete or lacks detail and, as such, fails to convince the inspection panel that the provider fully demonstrates the Requirement. Information gathered through meetings with staff and students may not fully support the evidence submitted or there may be contradictory information in the evidence provided. There is, however, some evidence of compliance and it is likely that either (a) the appropriate evidence can be supplied in a short time frame, or, (b) any deficiencies identified can be addressed and evidenced in the annual monitoring process.’

A Requirement is not met if:

‘The provider cannot provide evidence to demonstrate a Requirement, or the evidence provided is not convincing. The information gathered at the inspection through meetings with staff and students does not support the evidence provided or the evidence is inconsistent and/or incompatible with other findings. The deficiencies identified are such as to give rise to serious concern and will require an immediate action plan from the provider. The consequences of not meeting a Requirement in terms of the overall sufficiency of a programme will depend upon the compliance of the provider across the range of Requirements and the possible implications for public protection.

Types of quality assurance activity

We undertake three different types of quality assurance activity: 

Evaluation of new programme submissions 

An education provider can submit a request to create a new programme. In their submission they must set out how they will ensure that the qualification will meet the Standards for Education, including how the students will demonstrate all of the GDC learning outcomes. Two or more subject-specific inspectors will then independently evaluate the paper-based submission for the new programme. Each inspector will make a recommendation whether or not, from the information provided, the proposed programme appears likely to meet the Standards for Education or whether the submission requires further development to reach the required standard. This recommendation is presented to the Registrar who makes a final decision on whether to grant provisional approval of the programme. If the programme is provisionally approved, it will be subject to a full inspection prior to the graduation of the first student cohort, before full inspection will be granted. 


This is a desktop exercise through which we review written evidence submitted by education providers to ensure their ongoing compliance with the Standards for Education. The evidence is reviewed by our inspectors who will make a recommendation about whether the requirements are met. Where standards are partially or not met, this may trigger an inspection. Depending on the level of concern an inspection may be required rapidly or will be planned within the coming academic year. 

In 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 we have undertaken an extensive programme of targeted monitoring which specifically focuses on the risks caused by the COVID 19 pandemic relating to availability of clinical experience. 


We undertake a risk-based approach to inspection. This means that the need for an inspection can be triggered by a number of risk factors, such as: 

  • Risks identified through the monitoring process
  • Lack of progress against actions arising from monitoring or previous inspections
  • Complaints received relating to the programme or provider
  • Analysis of fitness to practise cases against recent graduates of a programme
  • Issues identified in other programmes offered by the same provider
An inspection will be undertaken by a small team of GDC appointed inspectors. They will usually meet with a range of staff, students and stakeholders to explore a range of evidence against the Standards for Education. At the end of the inspection a report will be produced which may include requirements and recommendations for the education provider. Latest inspections are published on our website.