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Australian university to drop Chinese medicine degree
By:Fu Yifei  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2019-08-06 17:40

The University of Technology Sydney is planning to stop offering its degree in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) at the end of 2021, causing protests from students and alumni.

The angered students, alumni and staff from the faculty held a rally on campus on July 25, chanting, “SAVE TCM” to object to the nearly 25-year TCM course being wound up without canvassing students for their views, and a lack of follow-up compensation measures.

(Students hold a rally on campus protest the closure of the TCM degree.)

About 220 students enrolled in this specialty also launched an online petition, appealing to the university to reserve the specialty, saying the quality of Sydney's acupuncture and herbalist services will suffer.

Ellie Huynh, who graduated from the UTS course in 2009, stated in her interview with The Sydney Morning Herald that it is one of the most highly-regarded courses as students have to log 1000 hours of practical experience, and by closing the course Australian society “won’t be getting as high-quality, safe practitioners.”

“I think that will impact public safety,” she said.

The closure is specifically to do with TCM’s poor financial viability, its low research intensiveness and strategic misalignment with the science faculty in which it resides, according to the Faculty of Health at UTS, which hosts the Australian Research Centre for Complementary and Integrative Medicine.

Faced with other critics questioning whether the university is prejudiced against Chinese medicine, the spokesman for the university claimed that the decision to review and to discontinue the TCM programs was “in no way a reflection of an institutional bias against complementary healthcare”.

However, students pointed out that UTS was one of the earliest institutions in Australia to study TCM and had made outstanding contributions to the development of Australian society and its medicine. They believe that the reason why the University has discontinued TCM is entirely for the sake of the university’s own interests, with no consideration for imparting knowledge and educating people. And this behavior will undermine the reputation of the university.

(Insearch faculty of The University of Technology Sydney)

The Dean of the faculty has viewed the online petition and comments submitted, as well as read the emails and letters she and the University have received from staff, students and concerned members of the public. Nonetheless, the University and Faculty management think they have an obligation to make decisions that support the ongoing success of the university as a publicly-funded institution, including its financial stability and growth.

Students who don't finish by the end of 2021 will either move to another health course, or transfer to another university (Chinese medicine is also offered by the University of Western Sydney, RMIT in Melbourne, and several private colleges).

Some Chinese netizens commented on Weibo (the equivalent of Twitter in China) that those studying TCM abroad can go back to China where TCM is taught to the highest standard in numerous institutions.

(TCM materials)

UTS is in discussions with other providers as well as with the government, to ensure that the university sector doesn’t lose any overall places in TCM study and that current levels of demand are able to continue to be met, however the outcomes of these discussions are not yet certain.