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Speech and Language Therapy Degree Accredited

University of Canterbury
news release
9 February 2004

Canterbury’s Bachelor of Speech and Language Therapy
first to gain accreditation

The University of Canterbury’s Bachelor of Speech and Language Therapy (BSLT) Programme has become the first and only course in the country to be accredited by the New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists’ Association (NZSTA). The NZSTA is the professional self-regulatory body for speech-language therapists in New Zealand.

Head of the Department of Communication Disorders, Professor Michael Robb, said NZSTA accreditation recognised the high quality of the teaching, research and clinical training components of Canterbury’s BSLT degree.

He said the accreditation process was a lengthy one with the BSLT programme being reviewed by a panel of national and international experts. Accreditation has been granted for a five year period.

Professor Robb said accreditation was a vital component to most overseas programmes, particularly in the United States.

“It is common practice for employers to recruit prospective speech therapists who have graduated from accredited programmes. At present, many speech-language therapist positions in New Zealand require NZSTA membership. By graduating from an accredited programme, membership in NZSTA will be easier to achieve.

“Accreditation will potentially make it easier for Canterbury graduates to have their qualifications recognised by overseas employers,” Professor Robb added.

The Speech-Language Therapy programme was first established in 1942 as a two-year diploma course offered through the Christchurch Teacher’s College. In 1989 it was changed to a four-year honours degree granted by the University of Canterbury. In 1995 the Department moved to the University campus. Since that time, the Department has experienced phenomenal growth, employing PhD-level faculty who specialise in various types of communication disorders.

The Department’s growth is also acknowledged in its recent name change from the Department of Speech and Language Therapy to the Department of Communication Disorders.

“The change in name reflects the advances in the profession,” said Professor Robb.

The BSLT is one of three degrees currently offered in the Department of Communication Disorders. The Department also offers post-graduate research training at the Masters level and offers the only PhD in communication sciences and disorders in the country.

“We no longer just deal with the treatment of speech and language difficulties. The professionals we train become experts in the whole range of human communication disorders including phonology and literacy, language development and disorders, experimental phonetics, speech and voice science, swallowing disorders and hearing impairment.”


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