GREAT FALLS (AP) - Montana State University-Northern is giving nursing students who failed a course a chance to get their diplomas after a high number of failures sparked criticism.
Some of the nursing students who had their diplomas yanked right before graduation complained about the failures last month to the Board of Regents.
The regents ordered an investigation of the two-year program, under which graduates passing licensing tests can become registered nurses.
''We're trying to resolve issues so they can pass and graduate as early as possible,'' acting Commissioner of Higher Education Carrol Krause said Tuesday. ''But we want to maintain the quality of that course and program.''
Northern Chancellor Alex Capdeville is scheduled to give a report to the regents in Kalispell late next week.
He said the school, following an internal review, has decided that students who failed the geriatrics course can retake the final. Also, a local hospital will be allowed to provide a makeup class in adult health and Benefis Healthcare will tell the school how well internships and teaching programs are working.
Several nursing students and parents criticized the MSU-Northern nursing program at the May 29 regents meeting in Great Falls. Officials from Benefis Healthcare supported the students.
Eight of 16 students failed to graduate after not getting high enough scores on a final semester geriatrics nursing class. They said they were not given the same pretest review as students in other areas.
All told, 19 of Northern's 49 nursing students failed to graduate, with some failing other classes.
Students aren't convinced the school's suggestions will work.
Dan Geelan, Northern's recent student president, said many were worried that the new tests ''would be unpassable.''
''That way nursing program officials could say they offered the course review and test again, but students failed again, which would validate their claim that this class was 'unintellectual,''' Geelan contended.
The school said it took steps to ensure that the makeup test was no more difficult than the original.