Review of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Program at UTS – summary to date
Late in 2018, the Faculty of Science commenced a review of TCM at UTS, considering a wide range of information about the program. The review acknowledged the length of time the program has run, the high quality of the students, the excellent learning and teaching outcomes, and the respect earned by its staff. However, based on the program’s poor financial viability, research productivity, and strategic fit within the Faculty of Science, the outcome of the review was a decision to phase out the program.
Faculty and University management acknowledge that this is an extremely difficult decision to make, and they wish that the program – which UTS has been proud to offer for 25 years – could continue. However, it is currently generating deficits in the vicinity of $1.5-$2 million per year, which is unsustainable for a publicly-funded institution like UTS. Further, in spite of some positive increases in research performance by TCM staff, this continues to be inconsistent with that expected of a research intensive environment.
Given the decision to phase out the program, no new students will be accepted into either of the TCM degrees. The Faculty Board and UTS Academic Board have now also agreed to the phase out arrangements, and the options that will be offered to current TCM students in order to support them in realising their goal of completing their studies and becoming accredited TCM practitioners.
Firstly, it has been agreed that the teaching of TCM at UTS, including operation of the TCM Clinic, will extend until the end of 2022. An analysis of each currently-enrolled TCM student’s academic record suggests that around 75% should be able to complete their studies by this date, provided they successfully progress through their degree at a full-time rate. The Faculty will provide repeat offerings of key subjects each year, responding to demand, to help students catch up a failed or missed subject.
Most of the remaining 25% of students will not be able to complete their studies by end-2022, primarily because although they are enrolled as full-time students, they have been studying at a part-time level, or else because they are on an extended leave of absence. These students will be given four transition options, including transfer to another TCM program, such as the accredited TCM program at WSU; concurrent study (which means completing the remaining TCM subjects at another institution after 2022 and graduating with the UTS Testamur), provided students are able to find equivalent subjects offered by them; fast-tracking of clinical subject completion, via short blocks and intensives, and; transfer to a Bachelor of Science with No Specified Major at UTS.
All TCM students have been invited to a one-on-one planning session with an advisor, who will work with them to develop a tailored study plan.
In recognition of the Chinese Medicine profession, UTS is in discussions with other providers as well as with Government, to ensure that the university sector doesn’t lose any overall places for the profession of Chinese Medicine, and that current levels of demand are able to continue to be met, however the outcomes of these discussions are not yet certain.
We appreciate that a program and clinic such as TCM, operating for 25 years, generates a strong community of supporters and we thank them for their ongoing engagement.
Any further enquiries can be sent to dean.of.science.TCM@uts.edu.au
Last update – 25 September 2019
FAQs for the review of Traditional Chinese Medicine at UTS
Why was TCM reviewed and what did the review look at and what was the outcome?
The review of Traditional Chinese Medicine at UTS was in response to several strategic pressures: ongoing concerns about TCM’s financial viability within the need for continual improvement in the Faculty’s overall financial position and efficiency of its operations; the strategic imperative (via the UTS 2027 strategic plan) for UTS and the Faculty of Science to be research-intensive and the potential for TCM to contribute to this; and consideration of the disciplinary fit of TCM (with courses that graduate registered health practitioners) within the Faculty of Science.
The review considered a range of information about the program, including staffing profiles, courses and teaching, student load, financial position within the faculty, course viability analyses, accreditation, benchmarking QILT, research training, research activity and productivity, external engagement, and TCM at other universities. Chinese Medicine staff had two opportunities to respond to the draft document, and their comments were received, considered and incorporated into the review where appropriate.
The Science senior management group considered the Chinese Medicine program review paper, and were asked to support one of the two options as a recommendation to the Provost:
- Discontinuation of the programs at UTS
- Build up the program
The Science management group acknowledged the length of time the program has run, the high quality of the students, the excellent QILT outcomes, and their respect of their colleagues. However, based on the program’s poor financial viability, research productivity, and strategic fit within Science, the outcome of the discussion was a majority vote to phase out/discontinue the program.
Aren’t there other courses within UTS which do not generate a profit? Why is TCM being singled out?
As not-for-profit organisations, universities don’t make ‘profits’ per se. If they make surpluses in a particular area, these are reinvested into the university’s main activities – teaching, research and outreach. There are certainly examples of courses at UTS and indeed at all universities that cost more to run then they generate in income, particularly in their start-up phase. However, the recommendation to discontinue the course wasn’t made on financial viability reasons alone, but rather the combination of poor financial viability with insufficient research intensiveness and misalignment with the Faculty’s strategic vision of the sorts of degrees it wants to offer and the kinds of discipline expertise it wishes to develop.
Did UTS consider other options apart from phasing out/discontinuation?
Yes. The decision was made reluctantly, and whilst acknowledging the length of time the program has run, the high quality of the students, the excellent QILT outcomes, and the respect of the Faculty management group to their colleagues. However, the outcome of the discussion was a majority vote to discontinue the program.
What consideration has there been to the online petition and comments submitted?
The Dean of Science has viewed the petition, and 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 have an obligation to make decisions that support the ongoing success of the university as a publicly-funded institution, including financially.
What consultation has there been with various stakeholder groups?
The university has consulted with the staff of the TCM program multiple times during the review process, and their feedback was included in the review report itself. The university’s enterprise agreement also requires that the university formally consult with its staff and their representatives on any decisions that might affect their employment, and the university will certainly do this.
The university has no obligation to consult with any other group, however has issued a number of communications to students and will continue to share information with them throughout the process. Likewise, the university has responded to communications from members of the public, and will continue to do so wherever possible.
Is this review reflective of valuing traditional medicine but not complementary health care?
The decision to review, and to discontinue, the TCM programs is in no way a reflection of an institutional bias against complementary health care – indeed, the Faculty of Health at UTS hosts the Australian Research Centre for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. It is specifically to do with TCM’s poor financial viability, its low research intensiveness and strategic misalignment with the Faculty in which it resides.
When will students know what is happening to the program and what the effects on them are?
The recommendation to discontinue the program has been accepted, and no further students will be accepted into it in future years. The Faculty Board is now considering various options for students currently in the program.
In further considering each of the options, Faculty Board will particularly look at continuing the University and professional accreditation of the current course for three more years (to the end of 2022). Teaching the program for another three years will ensure those students who are taking a full time load will have the opportunity to complete their TCM programs. Arrangements for students taking a part time load, students undertaking combined degrees, and any students remaining in the course beyond that period should also be considered by the Board. This means that options will be carefully considered by the Faculty Board and worked through with the professional accrediting body to provide a pathway for students to obtain accreditation upon graduation.
Students will be given the opportunity to meet with a study plan adviser to consider which options best suit their situation and needs. This will occur before re-enrolments for 2020 commence in mid-October.
How will my credit points for subjects already completed be treated at other potential universities?
We remain committed to ensuring TCM students complete their studies and enter the profession they are working towards. UTS is currently negotiating details such as credit recognition with an alternative provider to ensure the smoothest possible transition with the maximum possible credit.
Will the TCM clinic still run if the teaching program is shut down at UTS?
No. The primary purpose of the clinic is to support the teaching and research activities of the TCM program, so it will not continue past the end of 2022 at the latest.
What will happen to the profession of Chinese Medicine without the level of accredited training provided by UTS? Isn’t Chinese Medicine – holistic medicine a growing field?
University accreditation of Chinese Medicine practice is currently provided by other universities in both New South Wales and Victoria, as well as by private providers in all states. UTS is in discussions with other providers as well as with Government, to ensure that the university sector doesn’t lose any overall places and that current levels of demand are able to continue to be met, however the outcomes of these discussions are not yet certain.
The Faculty Board vote on July 26th did not endorse the motion to discontinue/phase out the CM degrees. What bearing does this defeat of the motion have on the proposal/decision?
The UTS course phasing out process has two central elements:
1. A management decision on whether to accept intakes into and deliver the course; and
2. An academic governance decision on the appropriate phasing out of the course.
At the Science Faculty Board meeting on July 26, members considered the submitted proposal to phase out the program, and discussed some of their concerns about the arrangements, particularly in relation to professional accreditation and program end-date. The Faculty Board will reconvene on August 30 to discuss these concerns further and to consider an updated proposal (including that the program end-date be the end of 2022 rather than 2021), and to have their advice included in recommendations to Academic Board about how the program discontinuation will be implemented.
The discussion at Faculty Board did not, however, overturn core recommendation made by the Faculty’s leadership team that the program is unviable and should be phased out. The Provost therefore accepted the recommendation, and as a result, UTS will not accept any further students into the TCM program.
As the board members rejected the recommendation of the transition arrangement plan, why have students, science and other staff, as well as the public been informed of the phase-out/discontinuation?
Is there a possibility for CM to be moved to another faculty such as Health?
This has already been considered as part of the TCM review, during which this option was discussed with Faculty of Health. After considering all the available options, the majority vote of the Faculty of Science senior management group was to recommend the program be discontinued, and that recommendation has now been accepted by the Provost.
Can the students have a forum with the Dean, the Provost and Vice-Chancellor, and/or the decision-making authorities?
The University has committed to keeping students up-to-date with all relevant decisions that may affect their education, but the decision on whether to accept intakes into and deliver the course is a management decision of the university, so it would have been disingenuous to have had a student forum on that decision. Once the implementation details of the discontinuation are known, the University will share these with students, and provide the opportunity for 1-on-1 study advice. If students wish a general forum at that time, it will be considered.
Will students (full-time, part-time, combined degree and post-graduates) receive a statement of impact with the full implications for all students?
All TCM students will receive information about the discontinuation implementation as soon as it is known. They will have the opportunity to meet with a study advisor to discuss their individual situation, what their options are and what they need to do to meet their objectives.
FAQs for the Transition Plan
Does the 2022 end date cater for all students regardless of study load and year?
Yes, the 2022 end-date currently being proposed would apply to all students, regardless of study load and year of entry. It is worth noting that only one student of the 221 enrolled in the TCM program is enrolled as a part-time student, so theoretically 99% of students enrolled in a single degree should be able to complete by end-2022 if they progress at the rate they are enrolled, that is, full-time.
Has there been any contact with any other institutions (such as WSU) regarding transferring students to another institution? If so, what is the status of that?
Yes, as part of the University’s commitment to ensuring its enrolled students can achieve their goals of becoming registered Chinese Medicine practitioners, UTS has been in discussions with a number of other providers about potentially accepting UTS students into their programs with recognition of prior learning. This is one of the options included in the current phase-out proposal being considered by Faculty Board. Other options include completing the degree before end-2022, or transferring to another 3-year degree at UTS that will allow students to gain accreditation at another provider following completion of a 4th year of study with that provider.
Has the vice-chancellor or his delegate met with WSU and when?
Discussions with WSU have been led by the Dean of Science, and she and relevant staff have met with WSU counterparts on numerous occasions over recent months. The Vice-Chancellor has not been involved in these discussions.
Will your transitional arrangement provide students with the accreditation of being an Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbal Medicine Practitioner & Chinese Herbal dispenser whilst also achieving the 1000 hours of clinic that was promised by UTS?
There will be no change to current accreditation or training expectations for students who complete at UTS before end-2022. Faculty management has met with other providers, and with the relevant accreditation body, to make arrangements for students wishing to transfer to other degrees – whether at UTS or other organisations – to receive commensurate accreditation.
Will any form of transitional arrangement allow students to receive credits for all subjects taken?
The intention of the proposal is that students transitioning to another degree will receive credit for all subjects passed at the date of transfer. Of course, if students transfer to a different degree – at UTS or elsewhere – they will receive credit as appropriate for that course.
FAQs for the 2022 Phasing out
Will first year students be directed to take the transitional arrangement, or will they be guaranteed the chance to complete by 2022?
Students will have the opportunity to complete at UTS by end-2022 if they wish. Alternatively, they could transfer to another provider either post-2022 or any time before that date. It is intended that they are able to choose the option that best suits them and their individual circumstances.
Will students be provided a letter of guarantee that we can complete our course as long as it is within the 2022 time frame?
No. The University doesn’t provide letters of guarantee. However, it is transparently committed to giving currently enrolled students the opportunity to complete their degree by end-2022 if they are able.
Will there be a limit on the number of students enrolled to continue to run the course until 2022? (for example, if there are only 20 students left as the course is phasing out, will they still run the course and clinic with appropriate resources?)
Yes, the appropriate resources will be provided to run the course and clinic at the high standards of education expected by UTS and the accrediting body, until the proposed phase out date of end-2022.
Will the program be properly resourced throughout the entire duration of the phasing out period?
Will you keep the CM course accreditation status with CMBA active until whichever time needed so ALL CM students (single degree and combined degree) are able to receive accreditation for their studies?
The University will consider the progression of eligible students when considering how long it maintains its professional accreditation, but has no objection to maintaining accreditation until end-2024 for this purpose.
FAQs for Undergraduate single degree students
Will part-time students who did not complete all 1st year subjects as they were not informed of the review prior to commencing, have the opportunity to sit those subjects either in summer school or next year, giving them the opportunity to proceed with a full-time load for the time remaining to complete the course 2022?
Only one student out of the 221 currently enrolled in the TCM program, is enrolled as a part-time student. That means that all others are enrolled as full-time students and are expected to progress through their studies at a full-time rate. Nonetheless, opportunities will be provided via Summer 2019 and Autumn 2022 to complete first-year subjects.
If the options the university proposes for those who will still remain in the course past 2022 are not feasible, will the university be offering a refund?
According to its published rules, which students accept upon enrolment, the University is able to change the status of courses and subjects without refunds to students. The intent of the phase-out proposal, however, is that it provides viable options for all currently-enrolled students so that they may complete their studies as intended.
The ‘course duration’ stated on the UTS website regarding the Bachelor of Health Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine explicitly states ‘4 years full time or 8 years part time’, it was also iterated in emails to part time students before enrolling. Can we request an extension to the 2022 to honour the offering that was made to these students? Aiding both part-time students and combined degree students.
As stated above, only one of the 221 students currently enrolled in the TCM program is enrolled as a part-time student. All other students are enrolled as full-time, and are therefore expected to progress at the normal full-time rate (ie 4 years full-time for single degree students) and therefore be eligible to complete their studies. Under the current proposal, students who are not able to complete their studies by end-2022 (eg combined degree students) would be eligible to transfer to another degree at UTS or at another provider.
Students should also refer to the UTS Student Rules to better understand their obligations – in particular the rule related to maximum time to complete.
What happens if a student in first year fails a subject?
See above answer about 1st year subjects being offered in Summer 2019 and Autumn 2020.
FAQs for Postgraduate students
Will post-graduate students be able to complete their studies? How will they complete their projects, and how will their supervision be seen out if their supervisors leave? We do not have Chinese Medicine experts outside of the Chinese Medicine staff.
Most postgraduate students would be expected to be able to complete their studies at UTS by end-2022. Where this is not possible, advisors will meet with the students to discuss other options, including possible transfer of their students to another institution.
FAQs for Combined Degree students
Will you keep your accreditation with CMBA active until 2024 so combined degree students are able to receive accreditation for their studies?
The University will consider the progression of eligible students when considering how long it maintains its professional accreditation, but has no objection to maintaining accreditation until end-2024 for this purpose.
FAQs for the Clinic
We would like the use of the clinic until 2024 to cater for all students completing clinic hours within the existing course structures.
Under the current phase-out proposal, the Clinic would cease operating at end-2022.
Will UTS ensure the clinic be properly resourced until all students meet their clinical hours required to graduate by 2022?
As above, the appropriate resources will be provided to run the course and clinic at the high standards of education expected by UTS and the accrediting body, until the proposed phase out date of end-2022.
Future of the profession
In the last faculty board Professor Dianne Jolley mentioned that the VC was in discussions with the Minister (?) regarding maintaining numbers entering the profession. Could you elaborate on the content of the discussions and how this will be assured?
If UTS transfers the program to another provider (other than UTS, there are three accredited Chinese medicine program providers in NSW [one university and two private providers] and two in Victoria [one university and one private provider]) then it would seek to transfer it’s Government-supported places to that institution, so that the sector can continue to have an adequate supply of accredited professionals to meet demand. The University has been consulting with the Department of Education about this possibility.