Potential Closure of UTS Chinese Medicine Department

Potential Closure of UTS Chinese Medicine Department

In the hope of reversing decisions made and yet to be made that will impact on the education of future Chinese medicine practitioners, AACMA has written to:

  • Prof Attila Brungs, UTS Vice Chancellor and President,
  • Prof Andrew Parfitt, UTS Provost and Senior Vice President
  • Prof Dianne Jolley, UTS Dean of Science

regarding the potential closure of the Chinese Medicine Department and suspension of the 2020 intake of Chinese medicine students. This is a copy of the letter sent to them and the reply received from Prof Dianne Jolley.

The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) is disappointed and dismayed at the news that student intake for the year 2020 for the Chinese medicine Bachelor program has been suspended with a view to potentially closing the course altogether.

AACMA has been representing the majority of registered Chinese medicine practitioners in Australia since 1973 and is proud to have UTS alumni and staff amongst our membership.

Since Chinese medicine became a registered health profession in 2012, a Bachelor degree has been the minimum mandatory qualification required for registration with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA). UTS is one of only three universities in Australia who offer CMBA approved courses for Chinese Medicine.

National registration and the high standard of education for Chinese medicine in Australia is the envy of many countries in the world who are seeking to elevate Chinese medicine education to degree level and government regulation. Indeed the UTS course attracts a small but consistent number of international students from Asia. The AACMA understands that universities are businesses and need to be financially viable but not at the expense of dispensing with the provision of a quality education in a growing profession.

Currently, as I am sure you know, there are over 200 undergraduate students, 15 post graduate research students at UTS and over 6,000 clinic appointments each year. This indicates that Chinese medicine is well supported by the public and this is reflected in the increase that AACMA has experienced in its membership over the last few years. UTS Chinese medicine academics have also been short term consultants for the World Health Organisation on several occasions (resulting in the publication of policy documents) and currently contribute to the development of international and Australian standards through their work with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). UTS academics have also played a major role in the regulation of Chinese medicine in Australia as members of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia and its committees, the Health Professions Council Authority (NSW), the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and as advisors to professional organisations such as the AACMA and the Chinese Medicine Industry Council (CMIC).

The strength of Chinese medicine practice is further facilitated by the post graduate research that is undertaken at UTS. With over 25 research papers involving experimental studies and clinical trials published by the UTS Chinese medicine discipline and research students in the last 2 years, it will impact on international Chinese medicine research if UTS closes the course.

We also understand that the clinical training component of the course also provided acupuncture to cancer survivors at Concord Hospital, a great example of social impact and community service. UTS has an international profile with involvement with several research centres and organisations in Asia including the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (CACMS), the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine (KIOM), the World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies (WFAS) and the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS). They have also hosted visiting scholars from several universities in China and Korea as well as short term student programs to undergraduate students from Tsukuba University of Technology (Japan) and postgraduate students from the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (Beijing).

The Federal Government has certainly recognised the benefits of Chinese medicine to register it as a profession by recently maintaining subsidies to enable private health funds to continue to offer rebates for Chinese medicine when 17 other health modalities have been de-listed.

The utilisation of Chinese medicine by the Australian public has increased to an estimated 3 million clinical treatments each year and there is strong public interest in a more conservative and holistic approach to health. A commitment to wellness and non-pharmaceutical approaches to maintaining health are gathering momentum with the public leading to a more integrated perspective of health care.

Please take the time to read Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margaret Chan’s address on “The contribution of traditional Chinese medicine to sustainable development: Keynote address at the International Conference on the Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine”

https://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2016/chinese-medicine-sustainable/en/

This burgeoning health profession needs quality education and training so AACMA strongly urges UTS to carefully consider any decision to close the course and instead continue to graduate professional and well trained Chinese medicine practitioners.

Yours sincerely
Waveny Holland President

on behalf of the AACMA Board and membership

Response from Prof Jolley

Dear Waveny and AACMA Board,

Thank you for your letter dated 3 June, concerning the teaching of Chinese Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney.

A range of options are currently being considered in relation to the future of these programs.

Consultation with staff, students and other stakeholders will occur during this process.

As you mentioned, we have decided to suspend the intake of students into the program in 2020 while we consider these options.

We remain committed to our students completing their study and entering the workforce as professionals.

If you have any future enquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

Dianne Jolley

Dean, Faculty of Science UTS

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