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Passing failed students at UC?

By johnboy - 16 April 2012 55

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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55 Responses to
Passing failed students at UC?
astrojax 1:25 pm 16 Apr 12

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_advocate 1:05 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.

johnboy 12:30 pm 16 Apr 12

go in free via google.

jsm2090 12:28 pm 16 Apr 12

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….

c_c 12:26 pm 16 Apr 12

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.

Duffbowl 12:21 pm 16 Apr 12

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.

EvanJames 12:17 pm 16 Apr 12

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.

NoAddedMSG 11:58 am 16 Apr 12

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.

HenryBG 11:20 am 16 Apr 12

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.

p1 11:18 am 16 Apr 12

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?

Duffbowl 11:15 am 16 Apr 12

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.

Tony 10:53 am 16 Apr 12

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.

Thumper 10:53 am 16 Apr 12

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.

c_c 10:48 am 16 Apr 12

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.

eh_steve 10:26 am 16 Apr 12

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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