The University of Technology Graduate School of Health has become one of just two Australian universities with a graduate program in the field of orthoptics. The practice-based graduate-entry masters degree will commence in 2015.
Established in 2011, the school also provides masters degrees and high impact research in pharmacy, policy and clinical psychology.
At an event held at the UTS Aerial Function Centre in Ultimo, to celebrate the launch of three disciplines in 2014 (orthoptics, clinical psychology and good manufacturing practice), Professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj Head of the Graduate School of Health said the past 12 months had been characterised by strong growth.
“It’s been an exciting, stimulating year, but when you look at what’s happened in the past 12 months, nobody would have expected for us to be where we are…We’ve got degrees up and running within six months,” he said.
Speaking about the establishment of the orthoptics program, Professor Benrimoj said the high quality of the academic staff and the program made it a good strategic fit for the Graduate School of Health “Kathryn (Rose) and her colleagues have quickly become members of our broader team and it’s been really good, we’ve built a culture very fast,” he said.
According to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists only approximately 500 orthoptists currently work in Australia and their ranks are ageing. Yet orthoptists provide direct patient care and significantly raise the standard of the provision of eye care to patients, identifying eye disease and providing a vital triage service in some hospitals, which helps achieve greater efficiencies.
Associate Professor Kathryn Rose said the UTS is the most appropriate university for students of allied health.
“The focus of this University is about practice based and innovation and that really fits with where orthoptics is going because, while we want to remain solidly based in the practice of orthoptics, we’ve got to adopt new technology and innovation. And working closely with the profession
“We are also driving innovation in our teaching because students these days learn in a very different way. This is a university looking at a very modern way of teaching and integrating technology into the teaching. Again, that really suits the way we are going to be teaching our students.
“We’re really looking forward to having a reinvigorated course,” she added.
Australia is the only country in the Asia Pacific region offering orthoptics education. The new UTS graduate entry program does not require a health or science education background. La Trobe University offers a Bachelor of Health Sciences/Master of Orthoptics program.