Students unite to stay

Federation University biomedicine students Tahlia McPherson, Luke Morris and Molly Barry have started a petition for Monash to begin accepting non-Monash graduates to the Monash School of Rural Health. photograph hayley mills

Federation University biomedicine students Tahlia McPherson, Luke Morris and Molly Barry have started a petition for Monash to begin accepting non-Monash graduates to the Monash School of Rural Health. photograph hayley mills

A petition calling for Monash University to change its policy which allows only students of its undergraduate course medicine course to attend the School of Rural Health in Churchill has gained almost 500 signatures.

Petition instigator Molly Barry is a third-year biomedicine student at Federation University and is concerned she will have to relocate to Geelong to complete her postgraduate study.

"Any rural student wishing to study medicine at Monash has to go to Clayton for three years and then come back to Churchill," she said.

"Monash needs to change their policy, it is a ridiculous policy. I am eligible for any other medical school, it is only Monash that accepts their own graduates.

"It is affecting the lives of real students, real patients."

Ms Barry said there were at least 30 local students in her cohort who were in the same situation.

"They are all local students wanting to stay local, but they can't," she said.

"If people want more rural GPs [Monash changing their policy] is the way to get them."

Ms Barry, who also owns and operates a business locally, said she wouldn't be able to continue operating the business if she had to move to Geelong to complete her postgraduate study at Deakin.

"I also have horses here, I'm on the Australian eventing squad and I have a business locally with horse riding, training and coaching and I have students, so moving across the state is difficult," she said.

"It is my livelihood. I'd have to stop the business and I would have to give up my dream of going to the Tokyo Olympics.

"If I stayed in Gippsland I could do both [study and continue the business] without a doubt."

Federal member for Gippsland Darren Chester has raised concerns around Monash School of Rural Health's entry requirements at Parliament in the past.

"Funding was provided by the Howard government to establish the Gippsland medical school operated by Monash," he said.

"At this time Monash also operated a university at Churchill, so regional students could stay in Gippsland, study their undergraduate degree at the Churchill university then study medicine at the Gippsland medical school.

"When Monash University withdrew from tertiary education in Gippsland, Monash retained the medical school. Monash University changed the eligibility criteria for entry into the medical degree, stipulating that students must do an undergraduate degree at a campus of Monash University. I don't think this is good enough and neither does the Latrobe Valley community."

Mr Chester said changing the entry requirements could help address the lack of medical specialists in Gippsland.

"It is well documented that if you can attract a regional person into a medical career, they are more likely to practise in a regional location," he said.

"Surely Monash could work with Federation University or other regional-based universities to establish a pathway which doesn't require students from Gippsland to pack up their whole lives and move to Clayton, whether they want to or not.

"I have raised these concerns with senior levels of Monash University several times and sought the support of my Parliamentary colleagues. I will continue to advocate for a solution." Monash University did not respond before The Express went to print.

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