The Australian Dental Council will enforce strict conditions on Charles Sturt University's Bachelor of Dental Science program due to staffing shortages, pressure on staff and students, communication and bullying.
The issues at the Orange campus were initially revealed in an external review instigated by CSU and were confirmed after an ADC Site Evaluation Team visited in April this year.
"The SET has identified serious concerns regarding the program's ability to continue to meet the accreditation standards," an ADC report on the review stated.
"The concerns raised regarding bullying, combined with a staffing profile that is stretched, raises serious concerns regarding the ability of the provider to continue to safely administer student clinics.
The concerns raised regarding bullying, combined with a staffing profile that is stretched, raises serious concerns regarding the ability of the provider to continue to safely administer student clinics.Australian Dental Commission
"Issues with communication between students and staff and between staff are contributing to an atmosphere of distrust that has developed within the program."
The ADC was also concerned staffing changes had affected the program's delivery and consistency of teaching.
CSU Executive Dean of Science Professor Megan Smith said the CSU dental program was established to address a shortage of dentists in rural Australia and has an intake target of 50 students per year.
"The university is committed to responding to the conditions and rectifying them as quickly as possible," she said.
"Neither the Charles Sturt review nor the ADC review found any deficits with the quality of [CSU] graduates.
"Our staff within the school are recognised for their achievements regularly.
Neither the Charles Sturt review nor the ADC review found any deficits with the quality of [CSU] graduates.CSU Executive Dean of Science Professor Megan Smith
"In 2018 one of our lecturers in Clinical Dentistry won the first prize of the Junior Category Colgate Competition at the annual meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Division, International Association for Dental Research; she will represent the Australian and New Zealand Division to compete for the global research award in the 2019 IADR Conference in Canada."
Professor Smith said CSU developed and enacted a strategy targeting the recruitment of registered dental practitioners, and has recruited an additional four to date.
"The university has investigated specific allegations of bullying through the University Ombudsman and responded directly to these allegations. A formal comprehensive investigation will also occur," she said.
Alongside those changes, she said CSU is reviewing the its External Advisory Committee, communication procedures, and improving health promotion, cultural safety, inter-professional practice and research literacy.
The Bachelor of Dental Science course will remain accredited until December 31, 2021, however it is subject to several conditions including quarterly updates on staffing.
Professor Smith said although there were conditions, there were no restrictions on future students enrolling in the course.
She said that since 2015 the undergraduate dentistry students have served Brewarrina as part of their workplace learning, which helped improve oral health in an underserved communitiy and the placement had become one of the most anticipated learning and teaching experiences for dentistry students.
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