Color-blind students should be barred from studying at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) medical school, the university proposed yesterday, but the Ministry of Education said it suspects that such a ban may be unconstitutional.
As people with color blindness struggle to qualify as doctors, most medical schools inform color-blind students not to attend medical school. However, NTU yesterday at a conference for university administrators proposed that it should be made mandatory that color-blind students are not allowed to register.
NTU Student Registration Office director Hung Tai-hsiung (洪泰雄) said that the university has had many color-blind students who have passed the admission test for medical school, but they eventually have to go through all the trouble of transferring to other majors after failing subjects where it is necessary to distinguish between colors, such as basic chemistry.
He said it takes a lot of resources to train students to become good doctors and even if a color-blind student is able to complete the degree, it may put patients at risk when the student becomes a doctor. Therefore, NTU wishes to make it mandatory that color-blind students are prohibited from taking the entrance exam for medical schools, or that they are turned down at registration.
However, the education ministry’s Department of Higher Education Director Huang Wen-ling (黃雯玲) said the issue involves the rights to be educated and equality, as protected by the Constitution. Barring color-blind students from medical schools may affect their right to choose their future jobs and she thinks the issue needs to be more carefully discussed.
Huang recommended that the university look further into whether future job options for medical school graduates would be affected by color blindness. The university should then again table the motion at the national conference for deans of medical schools and make a final decision after reaching a consensus with other universities.
Representatives from National Cheng Kung University and National Yang Ming University agreed that the issue needs further discussion, as it involves students’ right to be educated.
On the other hand, Kaohsiung Medical University chief secretary Lin Chih-lung (林志隆) said that most of the school’s departments give students a list of restrictions for their courses out of consideration for them choosing a future career.
He said that restricting color-blind students from attending medical school is similar to restricting them from getting drivers’ licenses. Even if color-blind students do not become doctors, but get jobs in laboratories, it would be dangerous because most of the medicines in laboratories are color-coded.
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