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Monday, 7 March 2005
Page: 156


Senator O’Brien asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training, upon notice, on 30 July 2004:

(1)   Why did the Minister support the axing of the undergraduate nursing education courses at the University of Sydney.

(2) (a)   When did the Minister first receive advice that the university was considering axing the courses; and (b) who provided that advice.

(3)   When did the Minister receive a request to formally approve the axing.

(4)   Was the Minister’s decision supported by: (a) the Dean of Nursing at the University of Sydney; (b) the Sydney University Nursing Society; and (c) the National Indigenous Postgraduate Association Aboriginal Corporation.

(5)   How many students are currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing (Indigenous Australian Health) course at the University of Sydney.

(6)   How many Indigenous students are enrolled in the course.

(7)   Does the Minister guarantee the continuation of the course; if so, on what basis; if not, why not.

(8) (a)   What impact will the decision have on postgraduate nursing education at the University of Sydney; and (b) how was the expected impact assessed.


Senator Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs) —The Minister for Education, Science and Training has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   The Minister agreed to the proposal put to him for the transfer of undergraduate nursing places from the University of Sydney to two other universities in Sydney because the interests of currently enrolled students are being protected (they will still be able to achieve University of Sydney degrees); the Indigenous nursing course will be protected, and the proposal will allow universities to build on their respective individual strategic directions.

(2) (a)   The possibility of the transfer of places was raised with the Minister in March ahead of a meeting with the Vice-Chancellors of the University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney and Charles Sturt University on 18 March 2004.

(b)   The three Vice-Chancellors put the proposal.

(3)   The first formal proposal for a transfer of all undergraduate nursing places from the University of Sydney to the University of Technology Sydney and the Australian Catholic University in Sydney was received by the Minister on 8 June 2004, from Vice Chancellors Gavin Brown (University of Sydney), John Cameron (acting VC of ACU) and Ross Milbourne (UTS).

(4) (a)   (b) and (c) Proposals relating to funding for universities were discussed with Vice-Chancellors. However the Minister did consult with nursing representatives and unions.

(5)   There were 7 students enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing (Indigenous Australian Health) (IAH) course in 2003 (most recent data available). Student load in the course was 6 EFTSL.

(6)   There were 3 Indigenous students enrolled in the IAH course in 2003 (most recent data available). Indigenous student load in the course was 2.6 EFTSL.

(7)   The Minister has agreed to the transfer of undergraduate nursing places conditional on continuation of the Bachelor of Nursing (Indigenous Australian Health).

(8) (a)   The University of Sydney argues that the transfer of its undergraduate nursing places is designed to enable the University to develop a suite of graduate-entry, postgraduate and specialised Nursing courses underpinned by a more research-active staffing profile. It will refocus its student profile and develop its research productivity.

(b)   Preliminary modelling of the impact on the Faculty’s budget and its staffing numbers has been undertaken by the Dean of the University of Sydney, with the assistance of the Planning Office.