University of Canterbury takes extra steps around gender diversity

University of Canterbury takes extra steps around gender diversity
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By John Gerritsen of RNZ

The University of Canterbury has taken extra steps to ensure psychology students understand they have to work with gender-diverse clients.

In response to questions from RNZ, the university said psychology students undertook clinical training placements which included assessing and treating clients from diverse cultural, demographic, and socio-economic backgrounds.

It said the expectation had been communicated to students in previous years but this year it had updated its information.

"There has been no change to the admission criteria for the programme this year, but UC has made some changes to ensure its expectations around compliance with the Code of Ethics, and in particular the requirements around working with diversity, are expressly stated during the selection process and in course materials," the university said.

It said students were told they were expected to work respectfully with all types of diversity, as required by the psychologists' code of ethics.

"They must assess/treat any client allocated to them, and cannot refuse to do so due to the client's cultural, religious, or social background or because of a client's sexual orientation or sex, including their gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics (other than in exceptional circumstances and with the approval of the director of clinical training)," the university said.

Asked if any student was disputing the requirements, the university said it could not comment on individual student matters for privacy reasons.

Asked if religious belief would be accepted as an "exceptional circumstance", the university said exemptions were considered on a case-by-case basis.