ENGINEERING students at the University of New England (UNE) are furious after they were alerted by email that the Bachelor of Engineering Technology course would be cancelled.
The email arrived on Friday, two weeks prior to exams, and said that retention issues had raised concerns over the viability of the degree.
Former president of the UNE Engineering Society Jacob Tan said students who had failed a course already would not be able to complete their degree at UNE and all would be disadvantaged by the cancellation.
“In the email they've said they will be helping each of us on a one-on-one basis and not one of us has been contacted with an offer of help,” he said.
The course was introduced in 2008 and has been under review for cancellation since April.
Engineers Australia has accredited the course for the next three years but many of the first year students will be unable to complete their degree at UNE.
At a meeting of the UNE Engineering Society, members had written their concerns on a piece of paper.
Most were financially stressed, concerned about their futures as engineers and said that the removal of students from a local university would affect local employment and diminish the economy.
One of the members said that he had already spent a year completing a pathways course to get into university, worked hard to earn himself a position at UNE and worries that may now all be for nothing.
“I’ve completed my first year of the Bachelor of Engineering Technology degree, that’s two years now that I’ve spend in this university trying to build myself a degree.
If another university doesn’t accept our prerequisite study I’m going to have to spend six years doing a four year degree, provided I don’t fail a course.
It’s a big chunk out of your life,” he said.
UNE staff claim that students will be offered cross-institutional study, meaning that they can remain in Armidale and learn through distance education online with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).
Former president of the Engineering Society Jacob Tan said that while that may be an option for some, those that live on college cannot continue to do so under their contracts if they do not study on-campus at UNE and students that attempt an engineering degree externally often fail.
“Most people that attempt engineering online do it at a part-time rate just because trying to do it full-time becomes quite challenging, if they were to try to do it full-time the chances are that they would fail.
For some people studying externally works better but definitely for most people it does pose a problem,” he said.
Students that do not want to study through USQ will have to apply through the University Admissions Centre for courses in NSW and the ACT by Friday September 30.
This means they will have less than a month to make a decision on the future of their studies.
There are currently 90 students, 27 of those study externally in the Bachelor of Engineering Technology.
Members of the Engineering Society said that it is not the smallest degree at the university by far and for this reason they can’t understand the argument that the degree isn’t viable.
“It's not an insignificant quantity of people by any means, you put 90 people in a room and you see what you get.
90 trained professionals is what you're getting at the end, it’s just ridiculous to think that we can pass everything and still be thrown under the bus,” a member said.
A spokesperson for UNE said the university will phase the program out with no new applications being accepted.
“This decision follows a review of the course that found offering the degree was not sustainable.
All students who are currently enrolled in this course have been contacted and either provided with a course plan to ensure that they can complete their Bachelor of Engineering Technology at UNE or with advice and assistance for those who wish to complete an alternate degree at UNE or transfer to another institution.
The students’ academic needs are currently a top priority and they will be provided with support and advice,” the spokeswoman said.