16 April 2012

Passing failed students at UC?

| johnboy
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The Australian is running more leaks out of the University of Canberra journalism school, this time a tutor Lynne Minion expressing her displeasure at being asked to pass Chinese exchange students:

Crispin Hull, a former Canberra Times editor, and course convenor, advised a UC tutor to pass two students in their journalism assignments, despite her objections.

Hull wrote in an email that he took a “pragmatic view” about the poor English of overseas students, explaining it was a case of “grinning and bearing” it.

“They will return to China and never practise journalism in Australia,” he wrote.

“If these assignments had been produced by a native English speaker who might be let loose with a UC degree on the Australian journalism scene, I would fail them. But that this (sic) not the case.

“I think it best to give them a flat pass without breaking it up. Tell them their English expression needs a lot of further work. It is a question of grinning and bearing it.”

[If the Oz’s paywall is giving you trouble try clicking from google.

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c_c said :

Probably because ANU can do better than Canberra’s mickey mouse private sector.

Spoken like a true egotistical pube.

This isn’t surprising surely—I guess it’s newsworthy, but not surprising. I went to an Australian university at the end of the last century, and such behaviour was already evident. Although it was alarming at the time, I’ve become less and less concerned over time.

Until I have to send my children to university I guess.

Woody Mann-Caruso8:49 pm 17 Apr 12

Can we start referring to him as ‘moral coward, Crispin Hull’?

milkman said :

pink little birdie said :

milkman said :

The reason why people like to bag UC is because it’s not geared to turning out intellectual-wanna-be pubes, unlike ANU.

UC just turns out pubes… the Locals who want a degree who don’t know what they want to do

Dunno about that. I’m in the private sector, and there are far more UC grads than ANU where I work.

(Small sample size, probably not meaningful!)

Probably because ANU can do better than Canberra’s mickey mouse private sector.

dpm said :

c_c said :

….UC graduates in major financial institutions – GFC was inevitable.

Hahahaha! The UC bashing has hit a new high watermark!
Perhaps, much like people complaining when someone who has spent little/no time in Canberra bags Canberra, we should reserve the UC critiques for those who have studied there?
Otherwise, it is yet just another example of people bagging anything that is different from them, or their experience (basically, a glorified p#ssing contest)… I suppose it’s human nature to do it, but god it’s boring!

You really need to learn to comprehend. Comment was taking the piss out of the comment that tried to make UC seem bigger because they knew someone who had gone on to work for firms that to a large extent caused the GFC. Not a great bit of evidence to offer.

pink little birdie said :

milkman said :

The reason why people like to bag UC is because it’s not geared to turning out intellectual-wanna-be pubes, unlike ANU.

UC just turns out pubes… the Locals who want a degree who don’t know what they want to do

Dunno about that. I’m in the private sector, and there are far more UC grads than ANU where I work.

(Small sample size, probably not meaningful!)

pink little birdie8:16 pm 17 Apr 12

milkman said :

The reason why people like to bag UC is because it’s not geared to turning out intellectual-wanna-be pubes, unlike ANU.

UC just turns out pubes… the Locals who want a degree who don’t know what they want to do

The reason why people like to bag UC is because it’s not geared to turning out intellectual-wanna-be pubes, unlike ANU.

Jokes aside, the success of an individual has nothing to do with where they went to uni, and everything to do with drive, hard work and brains.

p1 said :

c_c said :

devils_advocate said :

…vocational/trade based qualifications, such as law…

You’d better be joking.

The vast majority of lawyers are doing housing sales, appearing for DUIs and the like. Only a very small percentage are exploring the finer points of constitutional law in the high court. Think of it like most of them are electricians, only a few are working in high energy particle physics.

Don’t forget the ones chasing ambulances!

c_c said :

….UC graduates in major financial institutions – GFC was inevitable.

Hahahaha! The UC bashing has hit a new high watermark!
Perhaps, much like people complaining when someone who has spent little/no time in Canberra bags Canberra, we should reserve the UC critiques for those who have studied there?
Otherwise, it is yet just another example of people bagging anything that is different from them, or their experience (basically, a glorified p#ssing contest)… I suppose it’s human nature to do it, but god it’s boring!

FredClark said :

I know one UC graduate with an economics degree who went to work for several big banks and now a global credit ratings agency. Great money, overseas postings – a good career, I’d say. Well done, UC!

Explains a lot:

“From 2000 through 2007, Moody’s slapped its coveted triple-A rating on 42,625 residential mortgage backed securities,” he added.
“Moody’s was a Triple-A factory.”

Raymond McDaniel, Moody’s chief executive, told the commission it was “deeply disappointing” that the firm misjudged how risky mortgage-backed investments were, but said steps had been taken to improve the system.

“Moody’s is certainly not satisfied with the performance of these ratings,” he said, facing questions about why he had not resigned.”

UC graduates in major financial institutions – GFC was inevitable.

your all moronz. i got a uc degree and i can read real good.

poetix said :

‘Minion’ is a great name for a university tutor. Mind you, ‘Crispin Hull’ is almost good enough for Dickens.

Crispin Hull is most definitely Dickensian.

I know one UC graduate with an economics degree who went to work for several big banks and now a global credit ratings agency. Great money, overseas postings – a good career, I’d say. Well done, UC!

My impression of UC is that it’s a super convenient, super cheap campus in the bush that provides a good service for Australians at a highly discounted, subsidised price (thank you to the O/S students for subsidising us). All the comments about double or triple standards are certainly on the mark, though. We can do a lot better in terms of academic standards, but if you asked me to pay more I wouldn’t be here. It’s a dilemma I can live with.

devils_advocate10:58 am 17 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

If so, then I guess the Australian taxpayer will be overjoyed at the opportunity to spend money on hiring people to hold their hands and wipe their bums for them.

Well I don’t know about the taxpayer but I was certainly glad of some indirect subsidy from the full-fee payers.

devils_advocate said :

…some possible solutions could be a) suggest they focus on an academic stream that doesn’t focus so much on english language skills, such as economics, maths, computing etc b) make them aware of the hurdle they have to get over and suggest they devote additional time to gaining proficiency in the language c) make it clear that they could fail (last one probably not realistic but anyway).

Are you suggesting that students, having just completed 12 years of pre-tertiary studies, might choose to enrol into an Australian Uni without suspecting that English will be required?

If so, then I guess the Australian taxpayer will be overjoyed at the opportunity to spend money on hiring people to hold their hands and wipe their bums for them.

devils_advocate10:10 am 17 Apr 12

HenryBG said :

So what are you agreeing on here? Being bad at something should mean you get marked up for it? Is that the logic?

No, and nothing in either post suggests that. If it is recognised that students from some backgrounds might have particular difficulty learning english, some possible solutions could be a) suggest they focus on an academic stream that doesn’t focus so much on english language skills, such as economics, maths, computing etc b) make them aware of the hurdle they have to get over and suggest they devote additional time to gaining proficiency in the language c) make it clear that they could fail (last one probably not realistic but anyway).

devils_advocate said :

noma said :

from my personal experience, I have tried learning a new language before travelling overseas and know how difficult it can be, so I am sympathetic towards the international students who would have the same language barriers when it comes to learning English. It’s definitely not something that can be learnt overnight. But takes years of practice, persistence and resilience

I think also it’s a particular, additional difficulty between asian languages versus english. Because the sentence structure for chinese languages, for example, is almost exactly opposite that of english, I found it super hard to get the hang of the grammar, and I presume it’s the same going the other way. Also, english doesn’t have a super-huge reliance on tones to convey meaning, but there are so many quirky grammatical rules that don’t have analogues in asian languages, I’m sure that’s another huge hurdle.

So what are you agreeing on here? Being bad at something should mean you get marked up for it? Is that the logic?

I might go and enrol for a course at the Sorbonne and demand HDs on account of being too lazy and stupid to learn French. How do you reckon that will go?

devils_advocate9:30 am 17 Apr 12

noma said :

from my personal experience, I have tried learning a new language before travelling overseas and know how difficult it can be, so I am sympathetic towards the international students who would have the same language barriers when it comes to learning English. It’s definitely not something that can be learnt overnight. But takes years of practice, persistence and resilience

I think also it’s a particular, additional difficulty between asian languages versus english. Because the sentence structure for chinese languages, for example, is almost exactly opposite that of english, I found it super hard to get the hang of the grammar, and I presume it’s the same going the other way. Also, english doesn’t have a super-huge reliance on tones to convey meaning, but there are so many quirky grammatical rules that don’t have analogues in asian languages, I’m sure that’s another huge hurdle.

devils_advocate9:27 am 17 Apr 12

p1 said :

The vast majority of lawyers are doing housing sales, appearing for DUIs and the like. Only a very small percentage are exploring the finer points of constitutional law in the high court. Think of it like most of them are electricians, only a few are working in high energy particle physics.

^This.

devils_advocate9:26 am 17 Apr 12

I-filed said :

Er, access to enough money to buy a small internet site is not big-arse $$$, sorry.

Probably enough money to buy a sense of irony though.

‘Minion’ is a great name for a university tutor. Mind you, ‘Crispin Hull’ is almost good enough for Dickens.

Spykler said :

Spot on, my degree is from UC and I am on Big-arse $$$- I could buy this site 5 times over..

Er, access to enough money to buy a small internet site is not big-arse $$$, sorry.

Mr Waffle said :

devils_advocate said :

If you want a uni degree that means something, don’t go to UC.
Kthnxbai.

Wasn’t it announced the other day in the news that UC has one of the best employment-after-graduation rates in the country? Seems to mean something, then…

Spot on, my degree is from UC and I am on Big-arse $$$- I could buy this site 5 times over..

noma said :

It is a standard practice to mark international students’ papers more leniently in the areas such as language coherence and fluency.
People travel to Australia to study because the universities have a good reputation, and it helps significantly with job prospects.
Unfortunately, for those who began learning a new language in a new country it is a very difficult and tedious task which involves constantly learning new vocabulary, grammatical structure and fluency of expression.
from my personal experience, I have tried learning a new language before travelling overseas and know how difficult it can be, so I am sympathetic towards the international students who would have the same language barriers when it comes to learning English. It’s definitely not something that can be learnt overnight. But takes years of practice, persistence and resilience

That’s all very well, but I have had the experience of being marked down at UC in favour of Chinese students who had produced illiterate work. It was a joke: I had produced work to my usual standard, but the lecturer (non-Australian and well known for favouring OS students) marked a totally illiterate piece a high distinction and gave mine a credit (a lower mark than usual). I read the other student’s assignment and the HD was a nonsense. That particular teacher was always attempting to avoid submitting her students to exam conditions – no prizes for guessing why.

Ko. said :

Law is a vocational course.
Engineering is a vocational course.
Architecture is a vocational course.
Medicine is a vocational course.

The only thing that isn’t really a vocational course is Fine Arts because it never leads to a job.

None of those are intrinsically vocational. Vocation refers to something to which one is exceptional qualified for or is specially attracted to.

There are plenty of students in all those areas who are neither specially drawn nor particular good at it.

More to the point is referring to something as vocational/trade firmly places it in the real of TAFE like subjects. And while a great many in the legal and medical professions do tasks that could be considered it, a great many also work in higher level, more complex areas requiring much more theoretical grasps of the subject.

It is a standard practice to mark international students’ papers more leniently in the areas such as language coherence and fluency.
People travel to Australia to study because the universities have a good reputation, and it helps significantly with job prospects.
Unfortunately, for those who began learning a new language in a new country it is a very difficult and tedious task which involves constantly learning new vocabulary, grammatical structure and fluency of expression.
from my personal experience, I have tried learning a new language before travelling overseas and know how difficult it can be, so I am sympathetic towards the international students who would have the same language barriers when it comes to learning English. It’s definitely not something that can be learnt overnight. But takes years of practice, persistence and resilience

Ko. said :

Law is a vocational course.
Engineering is a vocational course.
Architecture is a vocational course.
Medicine is a vocational course.

The only thing that isn’t really a vocational course is Fine Arts because it never leads to a job.

Er, and the main thing Universities do that is of worth: Science.

I’m not surprised you didn’t think of science, after all, Universities have been hacking back on Science in order to fit in as many illiterate foreign students they can dishonestly pass in meaningless courses as they can.

Law is a vocational course.
Engineering is a vocational course.
Architecture is a vocational course.
Medicine is a vocational course.

The only thing that isn’t really a vocational course is Fine Arts because it never leads to a job.

HenryBG said :

c_c said :

It’s safe to assume the ANU, given it’s traditional focus on postgraduate and research programs, …

But they still haven’t completed any research into apostrophe illiteracy among graduates.

sssh, they are – you may have just contaminated a sample… 🙂

c_c said :

devils_advocate said :

…vocational/trade based qualifications, such as law…

You’d better be joking.

The vast majority of lawyers are doing housing sales, appearing for DUIs and the like. Only a very small percentage are exploring the finer points of constitutional law in the high court. Think of it like most of them are electricians, only a few are working in high energy particle physics.

c_c said :

It’s safe to assume the ANU, given it’s traditional focus on postgraduate and research programs, …

But they still haven’t completed any research into apostrophe illiteracy among graduates.

devils_advocate said :

…vocational/trade based qualifications, such as law…

You’d better be joking.

devils_advocate said :

Well there is a certain amount of english language skill that is required in order to do good journalism.

well, if they practice journalism in an english language-speaking society… as was my point.

Mr Waffle said :

devils_advocate said :

If you want a uni degree that means something, don’t go to UC.
Kthnxbai.

Wasn’t it announced the other day in the news that UC has one of the best employment-after-graduation rates in the country? Seems to mean something, then…

Yes, because UCan is the university equivalent of TAFE, they train people to do jobs. Universities are meant to be a whole lot more than that.

devils_advocate2:57 pm 16 Apr 12

c_c said :

Even more stark is the employment types: at ANU, 83% of staff are full-time (with under 9% part time and casual each). At UC, a whopping 24% of staff are casual, with only 65% full time.

That can actually be a good thing for vocational/trade based qualifications, such as law, which need a strong practical focus to succeed in things like litigation and advisory roles (but less so in academic roles).
The casual employees tend to be solicitors who are picking up some tutes as opposed to academics who are convening, which is one model that UC employs which I think works quite well.

c_c said :


Even more stark is the employment types: at ANU, 83% of staff are full-time (with under 9% part time and casual each). At UC, a whopping 24% of staff are casual, with only 65% full time.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons ANU are struggling budget-wise and doing a slash and burn?

Mr Waffle said :

devils_advocate said :

If you want a uni degree that means something, don’t go to UC.
Kthnxbai.

Wasn’t it announced the other day in the news that UC has one of the best employment-after-graduation rates in the country? Seems to mean something, then…

Not really, it goes back to what I said in a previous post last week that UC and those who employ US graduates are more focused on practical rather than theoretical, doers vs thinkers.

It’s true that UC has a marginally higher graduate employment rate, 80% to 78%.

However another statistic shows a striking difference between the two.
The percentage of graduates who continue full time study at ANU is almost 30%. At UC, barely over 17%.

It’s safe to assume the ANU, given it’s traditional focus on postgraduate and research programs, attracts a higher number of students who may not wish to jump straight into the work force after undergrad is complete.

Something else that doesn’t lie and again supports what I said is the staffing profiles of the two institutions.

At ANU, over 82% of staff have doctorate level qualifications. That drops to 61% at UC.

Even more stark is the employment types: at ANU, 83% of staff are full-time (with under 9% part time and casual each). At UC, a whopping 24% of staff are casual, with only 65% full time.

devils_advocate2:15 pm 16 Apr 12

astrojax said :

correct me if i’m wrong, but this a journalism skills, not an english language course..?

Well there is a certain amount of english language skill that is required in order to do good journalism. Given the level of crap that gets printed/published to the interwebs though who knows how bad stuff has to be before it will be judged worthy of a fail.

Hard to tell without seeing the examples which are at the margins.

devils_advocate2:09 pm 16 Apr 12

Mr Waffle said :

devils_advocate said :

If you want a uni degree that means something, don’t go to UC.
Kthnxbai.

Wasn’t it announced the other day in the news that UC has one of the best employment-after-graduation rates in the country? Seems to mean something, then…

Not really. Eg you could do a economics degree at UC and end up working at maccas. More qualitative/distributional info would be required before drawing any conclusions on the basis of that statistic alone.

devils_advocate said :

If you want a uni degree that means something, don’t go to UC.
Kthnxbai.

Wasn’t it announced the other day in the news that UC has one of the best employment-after-graduation rates in the country? Seems to mean something, then…

p1 said :

If we were talking about science, I could see the argument that that skill understanding of the subject matter are the important thing, and that language isn’t.

…but journalism? WTF? How can you grade someone on something primarily about communication if they cannot communicate?

well, to play devil’s advocate, if they are studying journalism, then the intent will be to instill in the student the capacity to distill the nub of a story from the full facet of the events and corollary hub-bub and to write this in a style that makes the insights of the journalist as well as the raw facts of the issue available for a reader/consumer. tat they are trying to do this in a very foreign language needn’t preclude their demonstrating competence in getting a style of approach, which will stand them in good stead when they revert to their native tongue and report to their countrymen and women. correct me if i’m wrong, but this a journalism skills, not an english language course..?

devils_advocate1:05 pm 16 Apr 12

c_c said :

University degrees have to mean something. They have to be an objective and high standard to be attained. Anything else is an expensive piece of paper.

If you want a uni degree that means something, don’t go to UC.
Kthnxbai.

I click on the link and hey presto, The Australian wants my credit card details. If the NY Times can offer 10 free articles a month, I think The Aus. can….

go in free via google.

NoAddedMSG said :

Um, sorry but dead wrong with that particular statement – the international student industry is built on a chronic shortage of tertiary education places throughout Asia – especially noticeable in Singapore, India, China and Malaysia.

It’s true that there’s a deficit in the number of students eligible versus the capacity of the Universities in China. However, every University has a deficit of places, the scale of which is largely based on their location and prestige/demand, which is why Uni of Sydney has a UAI of 99.95 for the same degree that ANU sets at 96 and UC at 88.

In the United Kingdom, where estimates state over 100,000 eligible students are missing out on University places, they manage to be one of the top 3 OECD countries for taking in International Students.

China is expected to increase its deficit of places to a point where it will only be able to cope with 40% of domestic demand by 2020. Yet at the same time, the government is planning to massively increase the number of international students China is taking in… yes, China is an education exporter as well.

So clearly while place availability does serve to an extent as a push factor on international student demand, there are pull factors as well that go beyond simple supply and demand theory. Otherwise the same countries that can’t provide for all their own eligible students, wouldn’t be simultaneously taking in international students.

NoAddedMSG said :

And for the record, ANU officially does not consider ESL to be a learning disadvantage ie you cannot ask for extensions or special consideration (eg in exams) based on your language background.

I don’t think any supposed bias would be official. Imagine if that document got out?
I know one group I was a member of got an extension based on language skills. Did I say anything at the time? Of course not. Should I have? Probably. Would I if I was in the same situation again? Undecided.

Dunno if it only applies to foreign students. I had the misfortune to work with a young lady who informed anyone within proximity (or on the phone) at every opportunity that she held a professional writing degree from UCan. I had occasion to view her CV and application for a job (she was applying for a job that the area she worked in was processing, ethical-not), and it was utterly appalling. It was waffle, but badly-written waffle, as-in it was difficult to understand, full of non-sequiters and nonsensical phrases, shocking grammar and sentence construction… it was actually embarassing to read, after her frequent announcements about her degree.

Writing of that standard should earn you a Fail in science, let alone a writing-based area of study.

c_c said :

China and Asia has not shortage of Universities, if they come to Australia, then it should be to perform at the academic level that is to be expected of a student at an Australian university. Holding them to a non-objective standard not only devalues Australian institutions, it devalues the efforts of their fellow international students who bother to perform at the same standard as local students.

Um, sorry but dead wrong with that particular statement – the international student industry is built on a chronic shortage of tertiary education places throughout Asia – especially noticeable in Singapore, India, China and Malaysia. Google entrace scores at Delhi University if you think I’m kidding. These countries are currently in the process of hugely increasing their capacities in the tertiary sector, which is eventually going to start negatively impacting on the international student market. Which will in turn cause all sorts of financial issues for universities.

And for the record, ANU officially does not consider ESL to be a learning disadvantage ie you cannot ask for extensions or special consideration (eg in exams) based on your language background.

Wow, I’m amazed that Crispin Hull got caught out by the old “send a silly email to somebody asking them to do something you’d be embarrassed about if that someone passed it on and made it public”.

Everybody knows these sorts of chats, where you ask a minion to perform an unethical task, have to be conducted under a cloak of plausible deniability.

It’s worth noting that every Uni in Australia has been doing this for years.

If we were talking about science, I could see the argument that that skill understanding of the subject matter are the important thing, and that language isn’t.

…but journalism? WTF? How can you grade someone on something primarily about communication if they cannot communicate?

While I have no absolute proof, as in a writtne communication from a lecturer/tutor, I was told by more than one tutor when I was at ANU that separate systems were used to mark work. Full fee paying students who had English as a second or third language were granted greater leniency in marking, particularly for grammar and spelling, than students studying under HECS. Mature age students, of which I was one, were marked differently as well, but that was less endemic and more prone to the individual marker’s feelings on the matter. I had one IT lecturer who told me that mature age students were a waste of time and money, and marked them accordingly.

As an IT and Management student of UC around the 2005 days, I’m sure foreign students whom were incapable of writing a coherent sentence were also given complementary grade upgrades with their tuition.
There would be so many tears when given their results from assignments and tests, they were sure they’d fail the course because of their poor scores and have their student visa’s cancelled or whatever. Yet, somehow, they’d still manage to be around the next semester in the following courses.

As a UC degree holder *2, I rate the degree itself poorly. Its only of value if backed up by experience and peer recommendations.

This is bulls*** and whatever Crispin Hull claims, he should come clean and admit that it’s all to do with the $$$. International students are cash cows so they’re not going to be held to the same standard where it may affect the institution’s bottom line

And there, in one paragraph, it would seem lies the answer.

This is bulls*** and whatever Crispin Hull claims, he should come clean and admit that it’s all to do with the $$$. International students are cash cows so they’re not going to be held to the same standard where it may affect the institution’s bottom line.

China and Asia has not shortage of Universities, if they come to Australia, then it should be to perform at the academic level that is to be expected of a student at an Australian university. Holding them to a non-objective standard not only devalues Australian institutions, it devalues the efforts of their fellow international students who bother to perform at the same standard as local students.

If we allow logic like Crispin Hull states, where does it end?

A third of Australian university students according to reports have fundamental weaknesses in their language skills requiring remediation – a statistic I see first hand.

Do we start holding those students to a subjective standard so they can stay and the University retains that student’s Commonwealth funding?

University degrees have to mean something. They have to be an objective and high standard to be attained. Anything else is an expensive piece of paper.

Looks like Hull’s point is valid. The Australian is probably just happy to take any swipe at Julie Posseti’s employer.

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