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Speech Pathology student numbers surge at Southern Cross University


Jessica Nelson
20 September 2021
Students doing a speech consultation
Speech Pathology students Scott Krumin, Leia Wilton and supervisor Dr Kirstine Shrubsole with client

Southern Cross University is becoming the go-to place to study Speech Pathology, with the number of domestic applications for the undergraduate degree increasing 79 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Chair of Allied Health Associate Professor Jacqui Yoxall said Southern Cross University was seeing a surge in demand for the Bachelor of Speech Pathology both at the Gold Coast campus and now at the Coffs Harbour campus since the launch of the degree there in March 2021.

This increase in Speech Pathology student numbers from the July mid-year intake is already being followed by increasing demand year-on-year for the November intake and the University’s main intake in March 2022.

“We think the main reason for this dramatic mid-year increase in offers is how well known Southern Cross University is becoming in the Coffs Harbour region for our Allied Health degrees, alongside the increasing uptake on the Gold Coast,” Professor Yoxall said.

“The Coffs Harbour community is acknowledging the world-class education available right on their doorstep without moving away from home, and we aren’t surprised people from capital cities are wanting to move to regional areas such as Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast to pursue further education.

“Southern Cross is the only University offering a degree in Speech Pathology in Northern NSW, and the only Gold Coast University to offer it at an undergraduate level. It is also the only Speech Pathology degree in the country to offer an Indigenous Health major. Another key strength of the Speech Pathology program is our multiple community partnerships which support the students to engage in a range of external placements, across New South Wales, Queensland and beyond.”

Professor Yoxall said Speech Pathology was also a profession highlighted as having ‘Very Strong’ future growth in the latest Job Outlook data released by the Australian Government.

“The other reason for our growth is greater community awareness about the need for people trained in this discipline, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas,” Professor Yoxall said.

“There is such a high demand for paediatric speech pathology services, that some families can wait years to have their young child assessed, thereby missing out on vital early intervention. We hear about children who have NDIS funding but are going through a full calendar year or longer without managing to secure an appointment with a speech pathologist.

“Speech pathologists not only work in paediatrics, but also with adults, in aged care, disability, and in the justice system. The final report of the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety identified increased services by allied health, including speech pathologists, as a key national priority in aged care.

“Speech pathology enables you to make a real difference in people’s lives and is a very rewarding career. It will continue to be in high demand and is a job that can enable people to work in the city, in rural and remote areas, and overseas – it’s a very solid career.

“Our graduates are highly employable, with many of our students managing to secure fulltime job offers before they even graduate.”

Final year speech pathology student and working mum-of-two Leia Wilton is about to embark on her final placement working with adult clients, and has already secured work as a paediatric speech pathologist after she graduates from Southern Cross Uni this December.

“For anyone who is thinking about pursuing speech pathology, ultimately a career in the field is so rewarding. Every time you walk away from meeting with a client you feel like you are making a difference, whether it be with communication or with swallowing. Knowing you’ve had a real impact means it feels more like a passion than a job,” she said.

Southern Cross University Senior Manager of Student Management Paul Robinson said Speech Pathology was just one of many courses experiencing surging demand. The Graduate Diploma in Education (Early Childhood) has also seen a mid-year increase in offers of 97 per cent compared to the same time last year.

“Based on domestic offers, our top courses for our July mid-year intake include our award-winning Preparing for Success Program (PSP) which is a free pathway course to university study, followed by our bachelor degrees in nursing, science, primary education, psychological science, and social work,” he said.

The newcomers to the top six course list include the Bachelor of Science, as Southern Cross is now delivering specialisations in Earth and Environmental Systems, Marine Systems, Forestry Systems and Regenerative Agriculture, rather than offering four separate degrees; and social work, which has seen a marked increase in enrolments in the past 12 months.

While international enrolments have dipped compared to the same time last year, Southern Cross has experienced increased enrolments in courses available online to international students, such as the MBA program, with offers increasing 143 per cent compared to last year’s mid-year intake (onshore and offshore students combined).

“The top five courses for international students for the mid-year intake include the Bachelor of Business and Enterprise, MBA, Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood, Master of Information Technology (MIT), and Master of Teaching. These are courses international students can commence offshore and continue from their home countries until international borders reopen,” Mr Robinson said.


Media contact: Jessica Nelson, media office at Southern Cross University, 0417 288 794 or [email protected]