Australia – In a ground-breaking first for both countries, The University of Newcastle (UON) has partnered with Orient Speech Therapy Center Limited (OST) to develop a world-class speech pathology training programme for its clinics in China.
In its early stage of development in China, speech pathology is not offered at a tertiary level, contributing to an inadequate supply of speech pathologists treating serious conditions including autism, swallowing/feeding skills and speech therapy after cleft palate repair.
Recognising the vast and immediate needs of its more than one billion population, OST sought the help of UON’s global speech pathology curriculum expert, Dr Sally Hewat, to create a cutting-edge training programme, helping to produce China’s first cohort of world-class speech pathologists.
OST’s CEO, Edward Yiu said the collaboration was a vital step in advancing China’s burgeoning speech pathology industry. “This is the first time anyone has brought together speech pathology clinical practice and academic rigour to this degree in China so what we are doing is quite ground-breaking. It signals exciting advancements in the standards of speech pathology clinical practice in China, which are crucial to support the rapid growth of this emerging industry.”
Currently employing hundreds of clinicians, OST hopes to increase this figure to thousands in the next few years. OST will dedicate one of its centres to support joint UON and OST research and both partners are working to establish reciprocal international study programmes.
“Recognising UON’s strengths in this field, we are currently in discussions about UON and OST research collaborations and the possibility of our programme graduates undertaking further studies at UON,” said Mr Yiu.
“Through the Australian Government’s New Colombo scholarship initiative, UON students could also undertake unique and enriching clinical placements at OST centres in China,” said Mr Yiu.
“In collaboration with the Trinh Foundation Australia and the University of Pham Ngoc Thach (UPNT), I was involved in the development of a two-year postgraduate speech pathology programme in Vietnam. This was the first ever speech therapy course in Vietnam,” said Dr Hewat.
“When undertaking this kind of work in Majority World countries you really get a sense of the immense, global scale of the problem. A major advantage of collaborating directly with industry is seeing the accelerated translation of research into clinical practice, where the community can reap the benefits,” said Dr Hewat.