2 Nov 2009

Massey University to scrap midwifery degree

10:49 pm on 2 November 2009

Massey University is to scrap its midwifery degree, saying new teaching requirements make it impossible to teach the course in three years.

The Midwifery Council has negotiated new standards with tertiary institutions, including beefed-up academic requirements, practical hours and a mandatory three-year teaching timeframe.

The council defended the change on Monday, saying it is aimed at providing more graduates to meet a nationwide shortage of midwives.

Massey University provides about a quarter of New Zealand's midwifery graduates and is concerned that a three-year timeframe will compromise student welfare and retention, teaching principals and staff research requirements.

The university believes a four-year timeframe is a better option.

Warwick Slinn, acting head of Massey's School of Health and Social Services, told Nine to Noon on Monday the new requirements mean students are given equal time for theory and practice.

"Understandably, the Midwifery Council to increase the amount of practice its students get before they go out into the workforce - and we have no quarrel with that if that is what they regard as a valuable means of training.

"Our concern is simply that we want to teach it over four years."

Midwifery Council deputy chair Sharron Cole says in 2005 consultations revealed a lack of consistency in midwifery programmes.

She told Nine to Noon the changes are an extended academic year and not "cramming".

Ms Cole says of the 1200 extra hours in the course, 900 are additional clinical hours, meaning more time for students to train in different facilities or with midwives.

She says the changes for midwives are similar to the practical focus that vets, agricultural science and medicine students take.

College not worried

The College of Midwives says mothers-to-be should have no concerns over Massey University withdrawing.

More than 20 thousand people convicted of drink driving can now claim back some of their court costs following a successful appeal by a Chrischurch man.

An advisor at the college, Norma Campbell, says mothers in the lower North Island can be reassured that Otago Polytechnic is ready to fill the training gap.