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Thursday, 22 October 1970

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I recall the earlier question, and since then I have read the article in which this complaint was made. It was suggested in the article that out of 68 first year medical students at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, as it was put, 32 budding doctors would be prevented from entering second year because of a shortage of staff and facilities. This presented the situation in a manner which was incorrect in two respects. First of all, the restriction to 36 in the second year is one which has been had by the university for some time. The university applies its quota in the second year, not in the first year. For some years its quota has been 36. Students entering first year are informed of this. They are completely aware of it and they are aware also that, if they are not included in the quota for the second year, they will be able to continue with a science degree course.

Therefore, the inability of some students to continue in medicine in the second year is due not to a shortage of staff and facilities suddenly developing but to an existing policy of applying a quota in the second year. The second manner in which the honourable member is incorrect is in the suggestion that all the 68 students would pass and would be applying to enter second year in medicine. As I have said, this quota has applied for some time and having regard to failures it has never been quite filled. It is true that there was a slightly larger intake in first year on this occasion but whether people are excluded from second year will still .depend on the failure rate. It certainly could not be expected that 32 students would be excluded. Being a new medical school the failure rate has been rather high.

The honourable member asked whether I will inquire further into the matter. I expect to visit Hobart on Friday and Saturday of this week. I have arranged to make further inquiries there in case there are factors which have not been put before me. I conclude by saying that this quota is university policy and these restrictions have been put forward in the papers for this triennium. It would, of course, be open to the university, in preparing its submission for the next triennium, to make provision, if required, for larger facilities in its medical school. This would then be considered by the Australian Universities Commission.

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