Further dilution of homeopathy offerings

Robert Gordon scraps CAM course due to lack of interest. Zoë Corbyn reports

April 19, 2010

A Scottish university has become the latest institution to scrap its homeopathy provision after coming under pressure from a campaigner against “pseudoscience” courses.

Robert Gordon University, based in Aberdeen, said it had cancelled the Introduction to Homeopathy module offered by its School of Nursing and Midwifery because it was attracting too few students. The course has been running since January 2007.

A university spokesman said: “It was cancelled as it was considered to be financially unviable.”

He added that the course had run only once with a total of just three students, and that the decision to axe it followed an “annual review of provision”.

The course has been the target of a campaign by David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London and an outspoken critic of institutions offering courses in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

He lodged a request under the Freedom of Information Act to see the course materials in September 2009.

“[Robert Gordon] closed the course just before the Information Commissioner for Scotland judged the appeal against its refusal to release course materials,” Professor Colquhoun says in his blog. He has since received the material from the university.

The course is the latest of a number of homeopathy courses to have been shut down, with institutions generally blaming lack of student interest for their decisions.

Times Higher Education reported last week that the University of Buckingham had withdrawn accreditation from a postgraduate diploma in integrated medicine – which combines conventional and alternative medical treatments.

This course had also been targeted by Professor Colquhoun’s campaign.

The decision by Robert Gordon will come as a particular blow to supporters of homeopathy. The institution’s late vice-chancellor, Michael Pittilo, who died in February, was an advocate of the teaching of CAM and a trustee of The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health.

Other institutions to have suspended or closed BSc degrees in CAM in the past two years include the universities of Central Lancashire, Salford and Westminster.

zoe.corbyn@tsleducation.com

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