Med school scandal leads to resignations
THE University of Queensland’s vice-chancellor has admitted to a “breakdown in the normal checks and balances” after resigning over a scandal where a member of his family was admitted to the university’s medical school.
In a message to university staff, Professor Paul Greenfield gave no detail on how a family member came to be admitted, writing that the decision “while neither requested nor made by me, was inappropriate and benefited a close relative”. “The enrolment decision was as the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding of a conversation and a breakdown in the normal checks and balances that control such decisions,” Professor Greenfield wrote.
Both Professor Greenfield and his deputy Professor Michael Keniger have agreed to step down, with Professor Greenfield set to leave the university in mid-2012.
The Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) confirmed the university reported two matters involving “irregularities in recruitment and enrolment processes” in June and October. It said the university had responsibility for investigating both matters “subject to close monitoring by the CMC”.
The scandal prompted other medical schools to reassert the importance of transparent and equitable student selection processes, although none would comment on the University of Queensland matter specifically.
Professor Peter Smith, dean of medicine at the University of NSW and chair of the Committee of Group of Eight Medical Deans, said he encountered potential breaches of admissions procedures “very rarely because I would never take those calls”.
“If someone does get through to me or if they talk to me at a party or function or meeting, I just say it’s an inappropriate conversation,” he said.
“I have no direct input in the actual selection of the students. My role is to make sure our process is as objective and transparent as possible.
“The one thing we absolutely have to do is have the process described and we must follow it, because if we don’t do as we say, then clearly there’s an argument that someone could appeal on the grounds of procedural fairness.”
Professor Justin Beilby, president of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand, said all medical admissions must be “transparent, and basically… where the ultimate decisions are not involved with the day-to-day reality of the testing”.