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What can I do about a constantly changing uni course?

By lejunk 5 February 2013 15

Part-time uni in the ACT has become a fulltime pain. With semester now commencing, I am suddenly being advised that I have to undertake extra study due to changes in my course. Again! 

My partner has also just been advised that mid-year graduation will no longer be possible as one of the subjects will be partly conducted in semester 1, with the final couple of weeks randomly moved to the end of the year. It affects our lease, our jobs – everything is being put on hold for uni. And I know we’re not alone…how do unis keep getting away with it?

In any other business, if the seller promised you one thing and then repeatedly delivered something different (or nothing at all), it would be breach of contract. Can someone tell me why unis are able to get away with this? Why do I sign up to one degree with a particular outline and then end up having to do something else when they change their minds? Do I have any rights…? The uni charter is pretty light on their responsibilities.

I understand that some flexibilty may be necessary to accommodate changes in each profession, but without exaggeration my course has changed drastically every single semester (and actually, my degree doesn’t even exsit anymore – they phased it out for a more expensive one). Help? Advice?

What’s Your opinion?


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What can I do about a constantly changing uni course?
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Gungahlin Al 10:27 am 07 Feb 13

Same thing happened to me at Charles Sturt Wagga as they wound down Environmental Science there is favour of at the Thurgoona (Albury) campus. As each lecturer retired they just didn’t replace them. But making you do more units – that sucks.

lejunk 8:36 am 07 Feb 13

Sorry, should have said ‘Grad Dip’ – I already have two bachelor degrees. And probably should be clear – I’m not at ANU.

As for the close regulation from accrediting bodies…well, at the risk of undermining my own studies, I have seen some spectacular examples of students with whom I have done group work being able to speak no English, get caught for plagiarism….then the realisation that they are international students (read: bags of money with legs) and suddenly they mysteriously pass the course….hmmm. My uni often gets around accreditation issues by putting these international students through in parallel courses that do the same units as mine, but don’t allow them to practice in the hospital (yeah, they pay bucketloads for a useless degree in which they learn nothing…..but perhaps they can practice in their home countries – scary).

LSWCHP 11:07 pm 06 Feb 13

I knew people who endured this nonsense back in the 1980’s at the then CCAE. It’s happened to quite a few people I’ve known since, including a guy I hired last year who was going through ANU.

In every case that I’m aware of, the students have received no sympathy from the institutions, and have simply had to cop it sweet. As you’re aware this is pretty tough, as it involves extra expense, inconvenience, more time subtracted for your life for seemingly nugatory study etc etc.

Sorry I can’t offer anything positive, but I do hope it turns out well for you.

SupaSal 7:21 pm 06 Feb 13

it’s because they do their guides on full time students not part timers

neanderthalsis 5:14 pm 06 Feb 13

peitab said :

Really? The uni upgraded the course from a diploma to a masters? That’s a jump of four levels in the Australian Qualifications Framework, and seems a little unlikely (certainly in one go – I stand corrected if the diploma was the starting point before the multiple changes).

OP probably meant a Grad Dip.

peitab 3:11 pm 06 Feb 13

Really? The uni upgraded the course from a diploma to a masters? That’s a jump of four levels in the Australian Qualifications Framework, and seems a little unlikely (certainly in one go – I stand corrected if the diploma was the starting point before the multiple changes).

Health professions courses are generally heavily regulated by the relevant industry as well as the tertiary education system. Each health profession has a registration board which accredits university courses. Accreditation is required in order for graduates to apply for registration and subsequently practice; it is a function that is usually assigned by the boards to a third party (e.g. the Medical Board assigns their accreditation function to the Medical Council, the Dental Board assigns it to the Dental Council, etc).

Health professions courses are accredited to a set of standards specific to the relevant industry, and if the standards are up to scratch they should include scrunity of any student transition arrangements in place for when courses significantly change or close.

Having said that, I too experienced multiple changes to course requirements during a three-year bachelor degree – in that instance, firstly a course advisor and then the course convenor were particularly helpful in sorting through the issues and waiving certain requirements. I’d suggest talking to one or both for your course.

neanderthalsis 2:20 pm 06 Feb 13

Universities and individual faculties are generally a law unto themselves*. In most cases they write their own courses, often without any real input from industry or professional bodies. They self regulate quality with only minimum benchmarks set by an external “regulator”. Those who teach need not have any knowledge of pedagogical practice nor any industry currency, it is generally accepted that having published a few hundred thousand words sets you up for dealing with a hall full of students. They extract exorbitant fees from full fee paying students, large amounts of taxpayers money for subsidised places (some of which is re-payed through HECS/HELP), own huge tracts of land and turn a tidy profit but still cry poor every year. They engage in patch protection to the highest degree, very few will accept that a student can possibly have learnt anything useful at another institution, so they wont allow any recognition.

*Some exceptions apply.

Kalfour 1:32 pm 06 Feb 13

It really helps to see a course advisor, and to get to know the head of the department. ANU is quite flexible.
One of the subjects I completed in my first year didn’t exactly correspond to what I needed to complete my degree after I transferred. By they let me use it in place of one of my elective subjects. You can get away with a lot if you know who to ask.
Of course, this is not necessarily possible with some degrees.

Kalfour 1:20 pm 06 Feb 13

I began a degree in 2007, and switched to a different degree in 2008. I’ll be finishing mid year, but because I took time off, not because they had issues.
They transferred my 2007 courses across and gave me credit for them. And although certain things about my degree have changed, they are faithful to the degree I enrolled in, not the system that new students would enroll in to do the same degree. They count equivalent courses.
I haven’t had to do anything different from what I was expected to do in 2008.
This is ANU. UC and ACU might be different.

Henry82 10:09 pm 05 Feb 13

switch said :

+ Like.

lol oops, not even close on the keyboard.

*dean

Tetranitrate 2:52 pm 05 Feb 13

p1 said :

During the extended period between when I did first year straight after year twelve, and when I finally was awarded a bachelors degree, the name of my degree, and the courses available to make it up also changed several times. Although the part of ANU I was at was pretty good at accepting the previously completed courses as being more or less equivalent to required pre-requisites for the later year course on offer.

It is certainly something Universities should be made to be accountable for, I wish you good luck, but won’t be holding my breath.

Yeah mine changed too prior to graduation, but ANU was fairly good at grandfathering people who’d done courses previously that didn’t exist anymore, so they could just complete their majors under the old rules.

lejunk 2:30 pm 05 Feb 13

Henry82 said :

This must be a very small/obscure course. Generally they do this sort of thing when there are staffing issues. Take it up with the course convener, followed by head of department, then the dead of studies.

No, it’s not a small obscure course and there are no staffing issues. We’re both doing health professional courses…but the uni decided to swap the diploma for a masters course so they could charge students more money. I would ‘take my business elsewhere’ but with uni, you don’t really get a choice, you need a degree to work in the hospital and all the unis seem dishonest….

switch 12:45 pm 05 Feb 13

Henry82 said :

… then the dead of studies.

+ Like.

Henry82 12:00 pm 05 Feb 13

This must be a very small/obscure course. Generally they do this sort of thing when there are staffing issues. Take it up with the course convener, followed by head of department, then the dead of studies.

p1 11:35 am 05 Feb 13

During the extended period between when I did first year straight after year twelve, and when I finally was awarded a bachelors degree, the name of my degree, and the courses available to make it up also changed several times. Although the part of ANU I was at was pretty good at accepting the previously completed courses as being more or less equivalent to required pre-requisites for the later year course on offer.

It is certainly something Universities should be made to be accountable for, I wish you good luck, but won’t be holding my breath.

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