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Byron Shire
October 16, 2021

Speech pathology student numbers soar at SCU

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The number of domestic applications for the undergraduate speech pathology course at Southern Cross University (SCU) have increased 79 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Chair of Allied Health, Associate Professor Jacqui Yoxall, said SCU was seeing a surge in demand for the Bachelor of Speech Pathology both at the Gold Coast campus and now at the Coffs Harbour campus since the launch of the degree there in March 2021.

Speech Pathology students Scott Krumin, Leia Wilton and supervisor Dr Kirstine Shrubsole with client. Image supplied by SCU

This increase in Speech Pathology student numbers from the July mid-year intake is already being followed by increasing demand year-on-year for the November intake and the University’s main intake in March 2022.

‘We think the main reason for this dramatic mid-year increase in offers is how well known Southern Cross University is becoming in the Coffs Harbour region for our Allied Health degrees, alongside the increasing uptake on the Gold Coast,’ Professor Yoxall said.

‘The Coffs Harbour community is acknowledging the world-class education available right on their doorstep without moving away from home, and we aren’t surprised people from capital cities are wanting to move to regional areas such as Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast to pursue further education.

‘Southern Cross is the only University offering a degree in Speech Pathology in Northern NSW, and the only Gold Coast University to offer it at an undergraduate level.

‘It is also the only Speech Pathology degree in the country to offer an Indigenous Health major. Another key strength of the Speech Pathology program is in our multiple community partnerships which support the students to engage in a range of external placements, across New South Wales, Queensland and beyond.’

Professor Yoxall said Speech Pathology was also a profession highlighted as having ‘Very Strong’ future growth in the latest Job Outlook data released by the Australian Government.

‘The other reason for our growth is greater community awareness about the need for people trained in this discipline, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas,’ Professor Yoxall said.

‘There is such a high demand for paediatric speech pathology services, that some families can wait years to have their young child assessed, thereby missing out of vital early intervention. We hear about children who have NDIS funding but are going through a full calendar year or longer without managing to secure an appointment with a speech pathologist.

‘Speech pathologists not only work in paediatrics, but also with adults, in aged care, disability, and in the justice system. The final report of the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety identified increased services by allied health, including speech pathologists as a key national priority in aged care.’

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