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UNITEC Could Double Trained Radiotherapists

6 July 2001

UNITEC could double the number of radiotherapists trained in New Zealand if the national radiotherapists organisation and the government agreed to its four-year battle to start the country’s second radiotherapy course.

UNITEC Chief Executive John Webster told Radio New Zealand this morning that the Institute of Technology had the staff, equipment and the support of the regional radiotherapy profession to start a course in Auckland in January next year that would produce 20 graduates annually.

“We have the people and skill to start the course now.

“If we get the agreement of all concerned by the end of August, then we will have a course running in January.

“The course will attract strong interest - particularly from mature students who can’t move to Wellington, and who are less likely to move overseas once they graduate,” Dr Webster said.

UNITEC had first proposed the course four years ago when the sector was projecting a looming shortage.

Dr Webster said the issues that had dragged out negotiations over four years from when projected shortages sparked UNITEC to moot the course, were trivial compared to the importance of starting the course and saving lives.

“There is nothing in the discussions which couldn’t be sorted out over the first year the course is running.”

He said one sticking point has been the profession’s desire for a course with a “university” tag.

“The Government has inexplicably tried to prevent our application for university status from proceeding. We started the process in 1999 and we feel we meet the requirements for university status because of our top quality research and degree level courses.

“Nothing better illustrates the outdated and elitist notions in some quarters of what constitutes a university. The types of teaching and applied research we undertake for professions such as those in the health sector require extremely high levels of knowledge and technical skills …University levels.

“Because we already offer a highly regarded medical imaging degree we are well placed to set up a radiation therapy programme as well.”

UNITEC currently offers the Bachelor of Health Science (Medical Imaging), which involves diagnostic processes such as x-rays, CT scans, MRI, mammography and ultrasound, and there would be significant overlap in a Bachelor of Health Science (Radiation Therapy).


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