The University of Wollongong's medical faculty has expressed its disappointment after ABC's new television comedy series Upper Middle Bogan took a nasty swipe at the school.
The program's snobby mother Margaret Denyar, played by Robyn Nevin, delivered a throw-away line on last week's episode, telling her daughter Bess that the university had been "handing out" medical degrees.
The university's medical student society said it was disappointed the program had chosen to target Wollongong. It believed the comment showed a complete lack of understanding about the graduate medical school.
President John Cherry said that though many students could appreciate the parody and humour, they were still disappointed. He called it a "poorly chosen joke".
"Anyone who thinks Wollongong's medical program is not as good as programs in Sydney has a very misplaced view."
The 28-year-old, who is in his second year of a four-year medical degree, believes the school's infancy relative to more established Sydney programs may have prompted the comment.
The first intake of students started the school's MBBS degree in 2007.
Since then, 221 students have graduated from the program.
"The graduate school is relatively young - it isn't as established in the medical community, so there may be a lack of understanding about it," Mr Cherry said.
"But Wollongong University is as academically sound as any other school in Australia. I think medical students from Sydney universities who have interacted with Wollongong students are impressed with their skills, along with clinicians, doctors and other medical staff in the Illawarra and in greater Australia.
"We are confident the school is preparing us extremely well for a medical career and we're proud to be students at the University of Wollongong."
The university's dean of medicine, Professor Alison Jones, agreed the school was disappointed in the series, and Wollongong medical students and graduates were of the highest calibre.
"Benchmark comparators demonstrate that Wollongong medical students and graduates are performing well both academically and clinically. I am very proud of our students and graduates," she said.
"We were disappointed with the phrase but understand it is a parody - we do have a sense of humour."
Outraged viewers did not share the view, and expressed their disdain in the media.
Figtree resident Connie Jessup wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald calling for people to "lay off the Gong".
"I take great offence at the throwaway line - we have an excellent medical teaching program at Wollongong University and the university is rated as one of the best in Australia," she wrote.
An ABC spokeswoman said viewers of the series would be well aware of the show's good-natured, cheeky tone.
"The ABC has a strong presence in the Illawarra region ... and hopes the community will take this gentle ribbing in good humour, as was intended," she said.
WHAT WAS SAID
MARGARET: A "stop-work" meeting? When on earth did the AMA become so unseemly? This is what happens when they offer medical degrees at Wollongong University.
BESS: That's appalling.
MARGARET: They've been handing them out for some time apparently.
BESS: I mean, that's an appalling thing to say. How can you be such a snob?