Legco probes urged into nursing course

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2008, 12:00am

Democratic Party lawmakers are pushing for two Legislative Council panels to investigate the failure of a sub-degree course in nursing to gain professional accreditation.

The calls came as the Hong Kong Institute of Technology stepped up its campaign to have its associate degree course recognised, accusing the Nursing Council of bias against it and of 'moving the goalposts'.

The Nursing Council last week informed the institute it was rejecting its course for accreditation, which means graduates cannot become registered nurses.

The council issued a damning letter - made public yesterday by institute president Joy Shi Mei-chun - which contained 15 points of criticism, including the quality of the course's teaching staff, assessment, practical lessons, study resources and use of teaching language.

The letter said details of parts of the course were not clear or documentation had not been provided.

But Dr Shi said most of the criticisms were inaccurate or based on criteria the institute had not been told about. 'We are not asking the council to lower its standards in any way, but there should be an open, transparent and fair accreditation process,' she said.

There had been two months between the accreditation visit and the rejection, but the council had not asked for more information, she said.

But council chairwoman Adela Lai Shuet-fun rejected the accusations. 'We do not have any goalposts specific to the institute. There is no bias. It is the institute's responsibility to assure the standard of the course meets our requirements. We have been asking or clarifying a lot of issues over the past three years.'

Ms Lai declined to go into 'piece by piece' details of the rejection, which she said was based on all the evidence and would not be reconsidered. 'It is a professional accreditation process,' she said. 'I hope you can trust us.'

Education sector legislator Cheung Man-kwong said he would make a formal request for Legco's education and health services panels to look into the issue, possibly at a joint meeting. 'The most important thing is to find a way for the government to help these students,' he said.

Fellow Democrat Yeung Sum, deputy chairman of the education panel, said he would also be making the request. 'We should invite the Nursing Council to appear before us to account for the situation,' he said.

Health services panel chairman Li Kwok-ying said he would be happy to put the issue on the agenda if panel members were in agreement.