Edith Cowan University, Western Australia in association with Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Thailand.
The School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences at Edith Cowan University established a new Bachelor of Science (Paramedical Science) degree in 2004. The program is a joint initiative between Edith Cowan University and St. John Ambulance and is the only Paramedical degree being taught within Western Australia. In preparing the graduates to work in the profession as qualified paramedics, it was essential to integrate the theoretical content taught by both the university and the ambulance corporation with significant practical experiences being delivered in the ambulance and hospital environments. The implications for this type of arrangement have been far reaching, as it involved the combining of the university resources with a corporate provider who had previously been involved in an education program in the VET system. From the beginning it was recognised that there were many issues that had to be addressed. These included: 1. the ownership of the intellectual property, 2. cost sharing arrangements between the university and the corporate partner, 3. quality control of all aspects of the program, 4. staffing implications for units taught outside the university, 5. legal liability associated with all aspects of conducting the program, 6. adherence to occupational safety and health standards, 7. duty of care for both patients and the trainee paramedics, 8. ownership of the program, 9. the identity of the university degree as opposed to the VET qualification, 10. conversion from the VET qualification, 11. development of postgraduate and research programs, 12. accreditation and registration. With the development of this program each of these issues has brought its own unique problems and forced similarly unique solutions. This has been an exciting challenge for all concerned. There was no template or guide to follow within the university system and this was the first time that the university has entered into an arrangement where a partner from the community has had such a significant input into a teaching program. The resulting agreement has provided a guide for others who may wish to establish similar partnerships in the future. Now that this degree is about to see its first graduates receive their parchments it is beneficial to reflect on the changes which have occurred both locally and nationally since the inception of the degree. It is clear that the effort that has gone into the careful development of this degree and its associated partnership has resulted in a quality program being delivered by the university in conjunction with its corporate partner.