Students rally to save disability studies course

Students rallied on August 29 against RMIT’s decision to terminate the Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability) course in 2012.

The course is the only disability specific degree available in Victoria and provides students with a professional education and a platform to offer leadership, innovation and quality service to community and disability-related groups.

In a statement on its website, RMIT said the course was cancelled because: “Interest in the degree has diminished over several years, resulting in the lowest ever number of applicants in 2010.”

One of the affected students, Jess, told Green Left Weekly: “What RMIT fails to mention is that this fall coincides with their introduction of the double degree [Bachelor of Education/Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability)].

"In actual fact, the number of combined enrolments in the single and double degrees has steadily risen. They only appear to drop due to the selective reporting of only the statistics for the single degree.

"RMIT has not released the official statistics on enrolments in the course.”

A statement from students said: “Graduates gain strong theoretical knowledge and well-honed evidence-based practical skills making them suited for positions in advocacy, management and supervision. In contrast, certificate level courses offered by the TAFE sector and private training organisations are generally tailored to direct care roles.

“Parents of children with disabilities have expressed dismay and harbour grave concerns that the impact of this decision will be significant and far reaching; the consequences will be felt for years and the sector will take a long time to recover, if ever.”

[For more information on the campaign, please visit Disability Studies at RMIT University. Let's fight for our course! via Facebook or phone 0421 783 244]

Comments

A partial victory! RMIT has decided to put B. Education/B. Applied Science (Disability) back on. Thanks for the rad article. There will be more action to come. Cheers, Jess B :-)

Statistics, and their origins, need to be investigated prior to their use to support or advocate a position. Combined offers for the two programs have been; 2009: 76, 2010: 75, 2011: 72.

RMIT does not release these statistics. It is provided publicly via enrolment and offer information collated by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC).

Jess is correct in her assertion regarding the split of the degree. Previously students wishing to study disability and education enrolled in the Disability program and then undertook a Graduate Diploma in Education. The advent of the double degree promoted a variation in the choice of education available for these students.

RMIT have indicated their intention to investigate opportunities for other double degrees and a curriculum revamp of the single degree.

Congratulations are appropriate for those students who undertook to advocate for the continuation of higher education within this sector.

The fight for the degree has demonstrated the passion and commitment that the students have for ensuring high quality service provision for people with disabilities. Well done, and continue the fight for the single degree. People with disabilities need your knowledge and expertise.

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