- In February 2007 Charles Sturt University (CSU) lodged a formal bid with the Commonwealth Government for $54.4 million to establish a School of Dentistry and Health Sciences in Orange and Wagga Wagga, with clinical education facilities in Bathurst, Albury and Dubbo.
- CSU commenced investigations into the feasibility of establishing a dental program in 2004 in response to concerns expressed by local dental practitioners and members of the community about the shortage of dentists and oral health workersin inland NSW.
- There is a crisis in dental education and services in inland NSW, with a predicted shortage of 1500 dental workers Australia-wide by 2010 and a significant mal-distribution of the dental workforce between metropolitan and rural areas (see Facts and Figures).
- In 2004, Charles Sturt University commissioned Professor Rory Hume, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales and currently Vice-President, Health, at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) to scope the viability of a dental program in inland NSW. In 2006, Dr John MacKay from Griffith University was commissioned to undertake a detailed feasibility assessment for the establishment of a School of Dentistry and Health Sciences including space requirements, appropriate location for facilities, course structure and costings.
- In May 2007, the Federal Government granted CSU a total of $65.1 million to complete the program for a 2009 commencement.
- The University is now in the process of establishing a cross-campus School of Dentistry and Health Sciences with pre-clinical and clinical facilities in Orange and Wagga Wagga and clinical education facilities in Albury, Bathurst and Dubbo.
- CSU proposes to offer a program in oral health for hygienist/therapists, starting from the Wagga Wagga campus, that will enable graduates, subject to approval of the Australian Dental Council and NSW Dental Board, to practise as oral hygienist and/or therapist.
- CSU will offer a 5 year program in dental science, starting from the Orange campus, that will enable graduates, subject to the approval of the Australian Dental Council and NSW Dental Board, to qualify for admission as a dentist.
- The programs will enrol 40 dentistry and 20 oral health students, with preference given to students from rural areas who intend to return to practice in those areas.
- It is planned that all places will be offered through the HECS system to ensure affordability to students.
- To attract the highest quality staff and to ensure an appropriate education environment for students, the facilities will be state of the art for dental education, with a range of laboratories, lecture theatres, teaching facilities and clinical spaces.
- Staff will include a mix of full time dental academics, recruited from within Australia and overseas, as well as local dental practitioners who will be appointed to adjunct academic positions to provide supervision and instruction in the clinical education program.
- CSU was established in 1989 with the unique mission: to promote scholarship, research, free inquiry, the interaction of research and teaching, and academic excellence with particular regard to the needs and aspirations of the people of western and south western New South Wales.
- CSU has built a reputation for prudent financial management and academic excellence by focusing on its strengths in professional education, particularly health education, and relevant applied research for rural Australia.
- Operating from the inland cities of Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Canberra, Dubbo, Goulburn, Orange and Wagga Wagga, the University is an integral member of our regional communities and economies. Our campuses and facilities provide access to higher education and applied research across northern, central, western and south-western NSW and north-eastern Victoria, with additional international study centres operating in metropolitan Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
- As one of the largest universities in Australia (38,000 students), the University also attracts more than 7000 students from around the world - reinforcing and extending our international reputation for professional education and applied research. Charles Sturt University was the first foreign university to be accredited to operate in Ontario, Canada, offering teacher training in cooperation with local education authorities. As a mark of our success, more than 84% of our graduates are in full-time employment when they finish university with the rest working part-time or pursuing further education. As a local enterprise, the University generates $264 million in gross regional product, $164 million in household income and 3,100 full time equivalent jobs in inland NSW. More than 9% of employment in Bathurst and 12% of employment in Wagga Wagga is created by Charles Sturt University, making us one of the largest employers in inland NSW.
- The University's four Faculties (Arts, Business, Education and Science) have a presence on each of the University's campuses. Faculties operate across campuses and are responsible for developing and delivering courses, while Schools carry responsibility for teaching subjects. Administrative and academic support services are provided by the Divisions, Departments and Centres that operate across the University's campuses.
- The University's health and medical science programs are offered within the Faculty of Science across all of the University's main campuses. The University offers the most comprehensive range of health courses of any Australian university including: nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, nutrition, dietetics, physiotherapy, podiatry, medical imaging, nuclear medicine, speech pathology, indigenous mental health, psychology, social work, social welfare, occupational therapy, community health, medical biotechnology, pre-hospital care and pre-medical and pre-dental science.
- To ensure graduates are work ready, the University requires students to undertake work placements in 85% of all programs and most health programs have a clinical placement requirement. To facilitate this, Charles Sturt University cooperates closely with a broad range of hospitals, clinics and health services throughout inland and metropolitan NSW and Victoria, and has special relationships with the Greater Western and Greater Southern Area Health services in teaching and research.
- Reflecting the University international reputation for quality health education, the University enrolls students in selected health programs locally in Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
- Building on its integrative and collaborative health education model, the University is currently preparing to launch a new cross-institution Centre for Inland Health to extend our existing partnerships with health service providers across inland NSW. The Centre will act as a leader and coordinator in exploring approaches that will improve health outcomes for inland communities and establishing solutions that will reduce avoidable morbidity in inland communities. Dental and oral health will be an integral component of the team based approach to health care improvement in inland NSW.
- Underpinning our health programs is a commitment to meeting the demand for trained health professionals in inland NSW, particularly in areas of critical shortage. Demonstrating our capacity to 'train and retain', a 2003 study showed that 83% of Charles Sturt University graduates from the Faculty of Health Studies who were originally from rural areas, and 28% of students from metropolitan areas, took up their first job in a rural or regional area. The University's rural recruitment and retention programs are a success factor that differentiates us from all other regional and metropolitan universities.
- CSU has a solid institutional reputation for professional education and applied research of relevance to inland NSW. Our financial management has ensured that our University has a sound base upon which to develop new programs. We have served inland NSW for many years, and understand the issues and complexities of health service delivery in rural Australia. Our geographic reach extends the impact of our programs to every location in NSW beyond the Great Dividing Range and further into northern Victoria. This investment into Charles Sturt University will benefit the communities occupying the vast expanses of inland NSW and beyond.