REPORT Regina Featherstone
Tension arises on campus with Macquarie University’s decision to stop the chiropractic science degree in favour of post-graduate medical research. The University has invested significantly in the Medical School in order to focus on conducting more research. This announcement shocked many chiropractic students. Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science Professor Clive Baldock explains in an email that Macquarie is in talks with other higher education providers to transfer the course along with its over 650 students who are currently enrolled.
Students geared up to protest against this decision in the courtyard on the 2 May as there was uncertainty whether students would have guaranteed completion of their degrees. The protest was cancelled at the last minute as students were promised completion of their degree, but the location is unannounced. Third year chiropractic student Patrick says, “I had an expectation that I would be able to graduate where I started… now we don’t know where we are going to end up.” The course may be relocated anywhere in NSW – whether that be a TAFE, private college or another university – with a metropolitan university preferred by students.
Another third year chiropractic student Jacque says that she is worried for the future of chiropractics as the course is young and hasn’t had enough time to gain proper academic standing. Patrick added that there is a problem with society’s perception of chiropractors being alternative pseudo-medical professionals. Students fear for the image of chiropractic science if a university no longer wants to offer a course for it.
For now the chiropractic department and students must wait to hear from another institution to accept the course. It has left students feeling more than unhappy. Third year student Kirsten says, “I want to get out of Macquarie and go to a university that wants us and will help us.”
We have also received a concerning letter from a fifth year chiropractic student:
Macquarie University was the first university in the world to incorporate chiropractic into a university. We are also the only chiropractic degree in the state and we have a world renowned program and our graduates are in high demand from domestic and international programs. We also have students travelling all over the world to study chiropractic from this university.
Last week, the university made an announcement without the consultation of students or the Department of Chiropractic about a ‘proposal to transfer chiropractic’ to another educational provider.
This is a direct quote from their email: “Macquarie University has recently invested significantly in a postgraduate medical school and a state-of-the-art private hospital. We naturally want to focus our efforts on supporting these initiatives with our teaching and research. While our chiropractic area does not meet our requirements from a research-intensive perspective, we believe our chiropractic degrees to be of the highest teaching quality, and they remain extremely popular with students.”
The problem with this is that:
- This was announced three weeks after census.
- Students in their undergraduate degree will not be able to complete their master’s degree required for registration to practise as a chiropractor.
- There was no consultation with staff or students.
- If it happened to us, it can happen to any other degree.
We hope the University will make the right decision by balancing between the strategic direction on teaching and research and the students’ academic and professional development.
Chiropractors can fix your bad back and chiropractic is a form of manual therapy including joint adjustment and manipulation. Image source: mornpenchiro.com.au.