Athlone IT Audiology Degree Meets International Standards According to Expert Evaluation Report.  An expert report published today states that Ireland’s first degree in audiology, offered by Athlone Institute of Technology, is on a par with the standards of similar UK and other international programmes.

The report was prepared by Prof Gerald Armstrong-Bednall, following a High Court agreement between AIT, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to allow students to complete their audiology studies in Athlone.

According to Prof Armstrong-Bednall: “The audiology degree offered by Athlone Institute of Technology unifies the academic knowledge and clinical practice to produce audiology practitioners who are fit for purpose, practice and award, comparable to other international university programmes.”

He continued: “I advocate this combined academic and practice-based method of graduate learning and training to the authorities as an exemplary approach to encourage the increase in the number of healthcare audiology specialists, proficient in the investigation and management of people living with hearing and balance health issues.”

The report identifies 22 reasons why the AIT audiology degree meets the standards expected by UK universities. Amongst them is a comparison of the programme and module learning outcomes of the Athlone degree with UK standards set by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) benchmark statements and the Department of Health/British Academy of Audiology educational aims.

Following this comparison, Prof Armstrong-Bednall has concluded that “this programme meets standards set by other universities” and ensures that “a recently graduated [AIT] audiologist will be able to fulfill their role”.

Commenting on the dedicated audiology laboratory at AIT, which is equipped with two acoustic booths and the latest audiological digital equipment and hearing rehabilitation management systems, the report author writes that “the audiology programme is well equipped with both space and audiological instrumentation … ensuring that theory is put into practice and practice into theory”.

Welcoming the report, AIT academic registrar, Dr Joseph Ryan, said that: “This expert independent evaluation provides certainty for our students. I welcome the support of the HSE and the HEA in helping us to realise the ambitions of this cohort of students to train as audiologists at AIT. We are also grateful to the students and their families for their commitment to their education in Athlone and to their determination to secure a positive outcome.”

The 11 students who are now in the third year of the BSc (Hons) in Audiology will undertake a 12-month placement commencing in January 2015. These placements will be provided by the HSE, which is currently working closely with AIT in assisting to equip HSE staff and towards ensuring the optimum experience for the students concerned.

Gerald Armstrong-Bednall is an emeritus professor of audiology at De Montfort University, Leicester. He was previously employed as a consultant clinical scientist (audiology) for almost forty years in the NHS, of which 32 years were as head of a large clinical service. Formerly chair of the British Society of Audiology’s education committee, he was awarded the Ruth Spencer Prize as joint author of the first in-service training manual for audiologists. Prof Armstrong-Bednall has also served on the executive board of the British Academy of Audiology, as a council member of the Hearing Aid Council, and on the education and training committee of the Health Care Professions Councils. Since 2010 he has been a professional advisor to the NHS as part of the Modernisation of Scientific Careers (MSC).