Staff attack science degrees in alternative health

Plans to offer new science degrees in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine at the University of Central Lancashire have met fierce opposition - from the university's own staff.

Mike Eslea, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology, has written an "open letter" to the vice-chancellor opposing the courses on the grounds that they have "no academic justification" and would "severely damage" the reputation of the university.

Three new degrees are being offered by the university from September in a partnership with the Northern College of Acupuncture. They are a BSc (hons) in acupuncture, an MSc in acupuncture and an MSc in Chinese herbal medicine.

Dr Eslea said he was protesting now because there was a final "chance to make a stand before they are up and running". His letter says there is a paucity of scientific evidence in the subjects, and the title BSc should not be given to courses that appear to be aimed at training practitioners.

"The fact that they are science courses really rankles. Having these courses is damaging, and it makes us a laughing stock in the scientific community," Dr Eslea said.

The letter is being made available by Dr Eslea to all Uclan staff and students. As Times Higher Education went to press, the university said that seven people had added their names to the document.

A Uclan spokesman said the new courses contained "significant elements" of science and noted that a core first-year module required students to critically review all types of complementary therapies.

"The courses have gone through Uclan's rigorous academic approval process during which senior academic staff from across the university, including those from the faculty of science and technology, considered the academic merits of the programmes. Subsequently, the courses have been considered and approved by a validation panel, which includes Uclan and external academics," he said.

zoe.corbyn@tsleducation.com.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Featured Jobs

Chair of Palliative Medicine THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
Dean HAMDAN BIN MOHAMMED COLLEGE OF DENTAL MEDICINE

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Elly Walton illustration (16 July 2015)

Whether in jest or not, sexist language shows an insensitivity to gender issues at odds with academic values, argues Dorothy Bishop

  • Tony Little, Eton College headmaster, 2007

Tony Little points to ‘increasing gap’ between teaching standards at sixth form and university

  • Tourists in rubber rings and flippers ready for snorkeling class

Dress to impress if you want students in your corner, claims US study

  • gold on scales

£246 million is big money but it is probably much less than the hit the research budget would take if the REF did not exist, says Paul Jump