A LA Trobe University blunder has left 34 prospective dentistry students in limbo.Students have been told they will have to defer their studies after the Bendigo campus over-allocated dentistry course places.La Trobe University made offers to 120 students based on a 30 per cent acceptance rate in previous years.But 79 students enrolled in the course this year and the university can only accommodate 45. Faculty of Health Sciences dean Professor Hal Swerissen said dentistry was traditionally one of La Trobe University’s more popular courses with 400 to 500 first preference applications each year.“We can only take 45 students for the course because of professional accreditation requirements and the number of dental chairs available for training students,” he said.“An important factor to take into account is that the nation’s university system this year is operating in an entirely new deregulated environment. “This year’s offers for dentistry, as in the previous three years, were based on a historical 30 per cent acceptance rate. “This year the number of acceptances for our dentistry course was unprecedented.“Over-enrolment sometimes happens and in many other courses we could cope with an additional 34 students. With an extreme shortage of dentists nationally and the high costs of running such professional courses, it would clearly be irresponsible to under-enrol. “The conjunction of those factors have impacted on the robustness of our admissions model and led to this error.”Professor Swerissen said the university would review its internal enrolment processes.“We have contacted all those students who are unable to undertake the course to apologise for this situation and to offer them guaranteed entry into next year’s dental course together with sponsorship of $10,000 a year for three years if they take up the offer,” he said.“We have also offered to assist them to gain entry into other courses which were second or lower preferences in their VTAC registration.”The La Trobe University debacle came as Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean announced a boost in regional university enrolments.Mr Crean said a strong higher education sector was vital to regional development and the long-term sustainability of the regions.
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