Students Disappointed at Loss of Dietitian Programme

Students Disappointed at Loss of Dietitian Programme

Diets themselves still more disappointing, though

Students affected by the University of Otago’s loss of the Masters of Dietetics programme (MDiet) were disappointed by the lack of communication by the Human Nutrition Department. Rose, the President of the Human Nutrition Students Association, said that students were not given much advance warning before the loss of accreditation, and many prospective MDiet students did not know that the University had been on provisional accreditation for over a year.

Students were told on July 31 at a postgraduate information session. Emily Coyle, OUSA Academic Representative, told Critic she had been told 24 hours before the students knew. Rose herself only had a few hours heads up, so many students were “shocked” at the new information.

The students were informed that the University of Otago had lost their accreditation due to staffing issues, as many of the teaching staff were research based, but an accreditation required the programme to be taught by registered dieticians. Current restrictions on international travel meant that the University was not able to hire enough staff to retain their accreditation.

Rose said that although students were disappointed with the lack of communication, she understood that the Department “didn’t want to stress students unnecessarily if [the MDiet] could have gone ahead,” hence the delay in relaying information about the loss of accreditation.

Students looking to study an MDiet will now have to apply to either the University of Auckland or Massey University. MDiet is currently the only postgraduate qualification that allows graduates to become a registered dietician.

After students were informed about the loss of accreditation, a Zoom session was set up with the MDiet programme at the University of Auckland, which informed them about their prerequisites and the specifics of their programme.

Rose stressed that the University was doing their best to get the programme running for future years, but it’s “the circumstances” that have led to the loss of accreditation. The University and the Human Nutrition Department were “genuinely upset” about the loss of accreditation, she said.

Student consultation about the future of MDiet at The University of Otago is currently ongoing. A Google Doc has been set up where anyone can voice their concerns or thoughts, which is then forwarded to the Department. Rose said that the process is “very much open” and that the University is “working hard” towards future accreditation.

Rose said that she is personally “excited for the change” as she sees Auckland as a new opportunity, however “for a lot of people that isn’t feasible”. 

“There’s no denying that students are disappointed [with the loss of MDiet], but at the end of the day it is what it is. If the programme isn’t accredited then it can’t go ahead.”

This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2020.
Posted 9:28pm Thursday 27th August 2020 by Naomii Seah.