I was reading about problems with universities endorsing ‘science’ degrees in homeopathy and other complementary medicine “gobbledygook“. I briefly thought that this was in the UK and hopefully it wasn’t happening here in Australia. Then the niggling voice of cynicism said I was probably being far too optimistic.
So I Googled “homeopathy site:.edu.au” hoping that I wouldn’t find anything, but knowing that, especially given the commercialisation of our universities, it was likely that I would. I chose to search for homeopathy because there is no scientific basis to claim homeopathy is anything other than quackery.
Below is the university list of shame. No university should endorse such pseudoscience, and no regulator should accredit qualifications in witchdoctory being awarded by Australian institutions, degrading the worth of all our science degrees. The government shouldn’t fund pseudoscience in universities or in the healthcare system, as we currently do.
Mitchell & Webb’s funny skit on homeopathy in a hospital A&E
That’s not to say that regular health sciences/pharmacy/medicine courses shouldn’t discuss the use and abuse of alternative medicine, since lots of people use it – it can even be a good exercise in critical thinking as long as it’s in the context of emphasising where there is absolutely no evidence of efficacy for homeopathy and all positive outcomes are due to the placebo effect etc.
It would be great to see some teaching materials from these university courses - as they did in the UK, to publicly shame the universities into closing the courses down and to show how dangerous they are.
Southern Cross University
As part of a Bachelor of Clinical Sciences:
Plus, if you visit Southern Cross University’s Health Clinic [Update 8/2/12: that link is now broken and it has moved and been re-written here, but you can see it how it was at the Webarchive - it remained essentially same from the first Webarchive capture in 2007 until now, and has just changed. Maybe the timing is a co-incidence, but the critics won't go away just because you've added a Thomas Edison quote and a disclaimer: "A naturopath will advise on any condition that is not life-threatening, that is one that does not constitute a medical emergency."] you might be mistaken for thinking you’ll see a GP and get treated with medicine [natural remedies that have evidence that they work become part of conventional medicine] – nup, you will be treated with woo and homeopathy:
So let me get this straight – if you’re feeling better it’s a sign that the homeopathy is working, or if you’re feeling worse this is also a sign the homeopathy is working. This is actually dangerous because people can have worsening symptoms and attribute it to the effects of the homeopathic remedy, rather than seeking real medical attention and treatment.
The university is so happy to be associated with homeopathy, there’s even a media release about a visiting homeopath.
Endeavour College of Natural Health
Autism?!! This isn’t some infamous fringe group like the AVN linking homeopathy to autism – these disease treatment claims are being given public credibility (and being used to treat actual patients) by educational institutions and universities with the Australian government’s imprimatur and funding.
© Southern Cross University | CRICOS Provider No: 01241G (NSW), 03135E (Qld), 02621K (WA) | Authorised by Head, School of Health & Human Sciences [iain.graham at scu.edu.au] | Maintained by robert.baglin at scu.edu.au
© Endeavour College of Natural Health 2011
Registered Training Organisation #31489
CRICOS Provider # VIC 01534F | WA 02492C | QLD 00231G | NSW 03132G | SA 03150F
Australian College of Natural Medicine T/A Endeavour College of Natural Health
Shouldn’t specific medical claims like these be slapped down by some sort of regulatory body - by a medical regulatory body like the TGA, NHMRC or even just advertising standards for false claims?
Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University students can receive a Bachelor of Health Science (Complementary Medicine)
Students who have completed one of the following Australian National Health Training Advanced Diplomas will receive credit for BMS191 Human Bioscience 1, BMS192 Human Bioscience 2, NUT201 Food & Health, BMS291 Pathophysiology & Pharmacology 1, BMS292 Pathophysiology & Pharmacology 2 and 1 x 8 point unspecified elective (total credit on admission 96 points):
Advanced Diploma of Aromatic Medicine (HLT60907)
Advanced Diploma of Ayuveda (HLT 60707)
Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy (HLT60507)
Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine (HLT61007)
Advanced Diploma of Western Herbal Medicine (HLT 60107)
The Australian Institute of Holistic Medicine offers Advanced Diplomas and says their students can receive the Charles Sturt University subject credits from these qualifications:
HLT60607 Advanced Diploma of Homoeopathy 046075A
HLT60507 Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy 046072D
HLT60107 Advanced Diploma of Western Herbal Medicine 040674B
HLT60707 Advanced Diploma of Ayurveda 046076M
HLT61007 Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine 062579K
HLT50307 Diploma of Remedial Massage 046077K
CSU research publications on pseudoscience – abstract:
We have conducted a pilot study to investigate the current use of homeopathic treatments for various bites and stings by Australian practitioners. A self-administered survey was sent to 460 Australian homeopathic practitioners about their experiences with treatment of bites and stings, specific treatments used and whether they perceived [groan - cognitive bias] treatments as being successful. Although the response rate for this study was low (n=35), several significant findings were revealed. Ninety one percent of respondents had used homeopathic treatments for bites and stings, with the most frequent being treatment of bee and wasp stings and whitetail spider bites. All respondents indicated that they perceived treatment success to be good to excellent with few patients requiring further homeopathic or conventional treatment. [Duh! Insect bites are likely to improve with time anyway - it's not like they were treating tiger snake bites with homeopathy. Or even like they had a control group or placebo.]
**For an insider’s perspective of CSU – see Tim’s comment below.
Paramount College of Natural Medicine
Paramount Colleges comprehensive Homoeopathy courses both the Bachelor of Homoeopathy and the Advanced Diploma of Homoeopathy provides [sic, sic] the graduate Homoeopath with the necessary skills in a range of natural therapy treatments, based on Biological Sciences, Constitutional Homoeopathy & Nutrition. This Bachelor of Homoeopathy qualification in Natural Medicine ensures graduates demonstrate a broad range of knowledge and skills to be able to analyse a client’s health status, including current medical treatments. Based on this assessment graduates can formulate and negotiate compatible, highly customised treatment protocols for health management.
You can even buy a franchise:
Paramount College of Natural Medicine is proud to announce our exciting plans to open 32 campuses nation wide – making us the largest provider of Natural Medicine services in Australia. If you are interested in owning an amazing business please download our Franchise Opportunity Booklet. Act now, before it’s too late!
Paramount College is the first natural medicine college to be franchised in Australia.
We are the first college to offer an accredited 3 year Bachelor of Health Science degree in Naturopathy in Australia, and the first college to offer an undergraduate degree in Mind Body Medicine in the world. We are a Registered Training Organisation and a Higher Education institution and offer courses from Certificate IV through to Bachelor qualifications.
We are accredited to offer VET FEE-HELP to our students, so eligible students can defer their tuition fees under a government loan scheme (the government pays the college directly).
The size of the natural medicine market…
In Australia the overall expenditure on natural medicine products and services is estimated to exceed A$1.3 billion per annum annually.
There are also colleges offering Diplomas, eg:
- Australian College of Natural Therapies – Advanced Diploma of Homeopathy
- Island Health College – Advanced Diploma of Homoeopathy
- This doesn’t seem to be independently accredited: Open Colleges Certificate in Homeopathy
Those greedy big pharma companies are all about money … oh, wait, so are we … apparently more than A$1.3 billion per annum annually.
The Paramount College of Natural Medicine franchise information at least shows us openly what this is all about - in our commercialised university environment, such courses are popular and make money. Which is the underlying flaw in the commercialisation of education – you can make money running courses teaching about fairies and there will be plenty of demand for the course from people wanting to open fairy medicine practices, but that doesn’t mean it has anything at all to do with the quality of education they provide (or even, in the case of homeopathy, its reality) .
The Guardian on this problem in the UK:
British universities are damaging their reputations by offering science degrees in homeopathy, reflexology and other alternative medicines, scientists warn today.
The recent surge in bachelor of science degrees in complementary therapies is described as a “disaster for reason and education” that is being driven by universities desperately trying to attract students to their campuses.
“This is the equivalent of teaching witchdoctory. If you have a bachelor of science degree, it ought to be in something that can vaguely described as science,” Prof Colquhoun said.
“I’d like to see vice-chancellors get honest. They’ve lost their way and are happy to teach anything to get bums on seats. They think anything that makes money is OK. We know that these courses are showing bigger rises than any other subject, while maths and other subjects are going down. It’s a disaster for reason and education,” he said.