Swept Away

7 June 2017

Students at the University of Melbourne’s Burnley campus are outraged over the cancellation of the Associate Degree in Urban Horticulture (ADUH), a degree offered solely at Burnley, from 2018.

The move to completely remove the course without any similar replacement offered has prompted the Burnley Student Association to declare its support for the degree in a statement addressed to students. It follows the changes to the study load which meant that students would only be able to study the degree full-time.

“The ADUH was developed in close consultation with industry representatives and provides undergraduate students with a broad base of horticultural skills and knowledge,” the statement read.

“The course content balances practical education with sound scientific study and we believe there is no equivalent degree offered anywhere else in Australia.”

Dean of Science, Karen Day, cites low retention rates for the degree’s cancellation.

“From 2010 to 2015, the number of students graduating only just eclipsed the number withdrawing, with most of those withdrawals having completed only a handful of subjects. The course did not offer a sound path to graduate study,” Day said.

“A new major in the Bachelor of Science (BSc) with an Urban Ecosystems focus will begin in 2018. This new major will make horticulture more visible and accessible to the 8,500 students enrolled in the BSc, and provide a clear pathway to the Master of Urban Horticulture,” she explained.

The University will enable students currently enrolled in the degree to complete their degree over the next four years, in a full-time study plan. However, for students such as first year ADUH student, Tessa Kum, this is a cause for concern.

“Living with a number of chronic health conditions, I am unable to enrol in a full-time study load,” she said. “I was intending to take four years to complete the course. The discontinuation allows for four years, but only if I fail nothing and have no major life upheavals during that time, including further health complications.”

Another first year ADUH student, Claire Young, is frustrated by a lack of University communication.

“The University needs to actually start communicating with students about the teach out plan as well as provide opportunities for current students to bridge into either the Masters of Urban Horticulture and relevant courses.”

“I worry that access to horticultural knowledge will become limited and unduly restricted to those with backgrounds in these related fields,” she said.

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