20 audiology students in limbo after course scrapped

More than 20 students training to be audiologists are in academic limbo after Athlone Institute of Technology cancelled the course a year into their studies.

The four-year programme began last autumn, but the college has blamed the absence of accreditation from a British professional body on its decision to discontinue the BSc in Audiology. While registration with a professional or regulatory organisation does not appear to be necessary for work as an audiologist here, questions remain about how the course was allowed to proceed without certainty over clinical placements or job prospects for students.

Marina Forbes applied for the course after it was offered last year, coming straight from doing her Leaving Certificate.

“We were told it wasn’t yet accredited but we were given to think it would be sorted out. It’s been a waste of a year and it’s cost around €5,000 for accommodation and fees and everything else,” said Marina from Ballina, Co Mayo.

She and at least one classmate are now lined up to continue their studies at University of Southampton, where they can proceed into second year of an accredited audiology degree course. However, the fees are €9,000 a year, and she is trying to set up funding.

The cancellation leaves taxpayers with a hefty bill, as tuition fees for 21 students are likely to have been in the region of €200,000. While AIT has offered the option of progressing to second year of an alternate BSc in Health Science with Audiological Sciences, most students are unlikely to take it.

In a letter to students, AIT registrar Dr Joseph Ryan said the college apologised unreservedly for the situation. They had been told in June there was a risk of the course being cancelled, but had believed by the end of last week it would continue in September, only to be told on Monday it would not.

A college spokesperson told the Irish Examiner it is not unusual for a new course to commence without accreditation.

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