UNE, Indian community welcome nursing ‘pioneers’

Published 28 August 2008

indianstudents.jpg In the week of Indian Independence Day (August 15), the University of New England and Armidale’s Indian community welcomed a group of 21 Indian nurses who are the first students to undertake UNE’s new Bachelor of Professional Nursing degree program.

The official welcome to UNE took place in the University’s School of Health on the 12th of August. The welcome organised by the Indian community was at Smith House in central Armidale on the 16th, the day after the newly-arrived students participated in another Indian community event – an Independence Day flag-raising ceremony at UNE’s Wright Village.

The 21 students are all from the city of Chandigarh in the State of Punjab, and they all have diploma-level qualifications in nursing. The one-year degree course at UNE has been specially designed to build on the qualifications and experience of nurses such as these. Their arrival at UNE is the result of negotiations – led by UNE’s Dr Mary Cruickshank – with the INSCOL Academy in India, one of that nation’s most important providers of health-care professionals. Travelling with them to UNE – and sharing in the welcome – were five Indian postgraduates about to begin a Master of Nursing degree program at UNE.

One of the Professional Nursing degree students, Gurwinder Dhillon, said her first impression of Armidale had been of a town – set in a beautiful environment – free of crowds and traffic jams. UNE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Webb, in welcoming the Indian students to the University, urged them to enjoy the beauty of Armidale’s natural environment by visiting the surrounding National Parks.

Professor Webb told them that, at UNE, they were entering a “community environment” in which members of the academic staff were interested in their students “as people”. He assured them that, through their interaction with students and staff members around the campus, they would make an “exceptional contribution” to the vibrant multicultural life of the University.

The Acting Head of the School of Health, Associate Professor Jeanne Madison, confirmed that the School was looking forward to a process of reciprocal learning. “Often when we have international students we learn as much from them as they learn from us,” Dr Madison said. “It’s a rich experience for both of us.” Then the nursing course coordinator, Dr Penny Paliadelis, welcomed the students to Nursing at UNE.

A second group of Indian students for the Bachelor of Professional Nursing program is due to arrive at UNE in February.

UNE’s Dr Kiran Shinde, a lecturer in Urban and Regional Planning, and Dr Subba Reddy Yarram from the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, coordinated the organisation of this month’s Indian Independence Day celebration and community welcome. Dr Shinde said that he hoped to see – with the increasing number of Indian students at UNE – an increasing number of events bringing members of Armidale’s Indian community together and enabling them to share elements of India’s rich cultural heritage with the wider community.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here, showing Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, with two of the Indian Nursing students – Rajdeep Kaur Grewal (left) and Preetkamal Kaur – expands to include (from left) Dr Penny Paliadelis, Professor Graham Webb, and another of the students – Navneet Bath. They are pictured (with a “patient”) in the School of Health’s Clinical Laboratory.