More than 300 out of the 1,200 international students enrolled in the Critical Thinking in Business course at the University of Sydney were given a failing grade after the first semester, 80 percent of these failed undergraduates were Chinese international students.
International students did manage to do slightly better in the university’s Succeeding in Business course, with 12 percent receiving a failing grade.
The students are making an appeal, saying that the university did not prepare them properly for a new in-class written exam, which they had to pass to complete the courses, according to ABC News.
Showing off that perhaps they did learn enough critical thinking to pass the course, Chinese international students have speculated that the university failed them deliberately in order to cash in on the Repeat Course Surcharge of A$5,000 per student.
The students can not enroll in classes for the current semester until the issue is resolved. They say that the university is dragging its feet.
The university has denied the allegation that it deliberately failed students by implementing a new testing system. University of Sydney Business School Deputy Dean, Professor John Shields, offered a different explanation as for why Chinese students struggled with the courses:
“We do have a large number of students coming to us from bachelor degrees undertaken elsewhere, including in mainland China, where the dominant mode of learning is what we would describe as passive learning, rather than critical thinking and engaged learning,” he said.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) President Jeanie Rae said that universities should resist pressure to pass under-performing students, but in this case she told ABC News that something does seem a little off:
I think the university needs to be much more honest about it, to me holding an exam at the end of a course and then wiping the students off after they’ve already paid their money to me seems quite cynical
If the students needed greater language skills, why were these students let in and given places if there were real doubts about their capacity to successfully complete?
According to City Journal, an investigation earlier this year revealed many international students were being accepted into Australian universities with scores of just 4.5 on the International English Language Testing System, when the recommended minimum score is a 7.
International students are big money makers for universities and Australia has been at the forefront of capitalizing on this revenue stream. It is estimated that the average international student pursuing an undergraduate degree Down Under will spend between A$15,000 and A$33,000.
According to Reuters, education is now Australia’s fourth-largest export with record revenues of $16 billion AU dollars last year. Chinese students make up a fifth of some 400,000 international students seeking an education in the country.
By Lucy Liu
[Image via Zaker]