Burnley students have expressed concern over a change to the study load requirements of a signature degree.
In late 2016, it was decided that the Associate Degree in Urban Horticulture would only be offered as a full-time course from 2017 onwards. Students who started the course before 2017 still have the option of studying part-time and students who applied to enter the course in 2017 through VTAC were notified of this change in mid-December of 2016.
The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Burnley Department has condemned the change, claiming that no student consultation was carried out before the decision was made.
“My main concern with the ADUH only being available full time is that it may become inaccessible to those students who, for example, have carer responsibilities, mental health issues, disabilities or work commitments,” said Jessica Peeler, UMSU Burnley Campus Coordinator.
“These students will be discriminated against because of their circumstances.”
43 per cent of the 2017 cohort is made up of mature age students.
In a letter sent to Professor Ian Woodrow, Head of the School of Botany, students at the Burnley campus expressed their concern with the decision.
“It is our experience that students appreciate the ability to reduce their study load in response to external stressors or to maximise their success in challenging subjects.”
Farrago is aware of a student who was granted an exception to this new rule due to a preexisting medical condition.
“I was stuck in a limbo awaiting a decision out of my power which would decide the direction of the next few years of my life, not to mention potentially waste the last six months of preparation,” they said in an anonymous statement. “Due to the lack of context surrounding the decision to make the course full time early, there was no advice to be given to me by SEDS, the staff or the SA at Burnley.”
Correspondence obtained by Farrago between faculty staff and a prospective student states that the decision was made after a “broad review” was conducted into the programs offered by the Faculty.
“The review was conducted by the Faculty in consultation with senior leadership from across the School of Ecosystems and Forest Sciences,” Dean of the Faculty of Science Professor Karen Day said.
Reviews are conducted annually and explore enrolment trends across the subjects of the Associate Degree.