40% Failure Rate? Chinese business students demand fair go from Uni

Sydney in July has already stepped into winter. It is cold now, even more for a boy’s heart. His name is Angus, a postgraduate student of the business school of the University of Sydney. The results of the examination of buss5000(critical thinking in business) has already been published two weeks ago and nearly 40 percent of students failed in this course. Angus heard that those students wrote a joint letter to the Chinese consulate in Sydney asking for help. They formed a group to argued with school leaders and reportedly has already made some progresses.

Angus, a postgraduate student of Business School of the University of Sydney. Photo:Eva HE

Delayed until now, Angus has just checked his marks online, finding that he failed the examination of buss5000. The ringtone comes from his mobile phone, the message shows on the screen that his already booked airplane tickets must be picked up three hours earlier before the boarding time tomorrow. He is going to back home and prepare for a short internship in China. But now, he feels like his mission in life become void of any meaning. He slides to power off the phone, thinking carefully what he is going  to do next.

Abercrombie Business School (ABS Building) in distance looks exceptionally dazzling, Angus feels unfair that he paid expensive tuition fees which is nearly 4500 AU dollars per course, but now,

Inner decoration of the ABS Building. Photo: Eva HE

he must pay additional 4500 AU dollars for retaking this course. “School needs huge money to build more beautiful buildings, so tutors failed me on purpose”, he thinks to himself subconsciously. Just then, three of his classmates look distressed coming over to him, asking him about the test results. Angus shakes his head slowly: “I failed buss5000…” “So did us.” “So what exactly happened this time? I heard that so many Chinese international students failed this semester. Is  that all about double pass that we must pass both final and weekly test?” said Chris angrily.

The failing rate of buss5000 is nearly 40 percent this semester, some students think there was something wrong with the marks of the exam paper and the school staff discriminated against international students. While the truth is that undergraduate business school students have the similar course just like buss5000 and their failing rates are much higher than 40 percent. For example, accounting course, failed more than 40 percent students last year, why didn’t they make troubles and wrote a joint letter to the Chinese consulate in Sydney asking for help?

“I don’t know.” Angus curled his lip and said: “One of our elder classmates,  the president of the Chinese Union of Students Jiang called me earlier this afternoon, he claims that we cannot deny the fact that in recent years, school have started to enlarge the recruitment and building,  it makes sense that students think failing us could be a good money-making idea. But we should keep calm rather than going to extreme. There may be some problems with the teaching methods of the tutors and some unreasonable elements about curriculum and tests. However, as a international student who passed the buss5000 in this semester, he said that we must take seriously about our English skills.”

There are so many Chinese international students studying in business school and some of them think buss5000 is not a big deal. They can pass the exam without paying efforts. So may be tutors want to correct their perception on this course. Some of the students noticed that lots of students failed buss5000 so they just want to get involved and protect themselves from responsibilities.

The back photo of Jennifer who wants her full-face photo being kept secret.          Photo: Eva HE.

“That is true.” Chris added. “Yesterday I had a coffee with Jennifer, the international relations director of the business society, she claimed that she had seen some feedback comments that Chinese students posted on the official college  website. Their English cannot make them pass the regular test actually. Some of them even look for essay-writing services to pass a certain course. Those students who make troubles are selfish, they made the news bigger and push staffs of the Chinese Consulate to negotiate with school leaders about this issue. They blamed all the faults to school and ruined school’s reputation.”

The photo of essay-writing service taken from the doors of the ladies room in the ABS Building. Photo: Eva HE

Angus turns on his phone, surfing on some social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Sina Weibo to see the public opinions about this issue in and abroad Australia.

There are hot debates in the WeChat Group that students who failed the buss5000 constituted. Some students claimed that the tutors are irresponsible and have prejudice on those Chinese students. But Angus is rational that his tutor, Tasbir, always take particular care of our Chinese students. If you ask her questions, she would answer it with patience. Most Chinese students who blamed tutors never ask tutors questions during consulting time when they get confused about the class, of course. They think there English sucks so they are afraid of asking questions.

Angus rethinks this issue that he may consider himself of hard-working students while his friend YUI have commented that he was not diligent at all. When he studied in fisher library, he always playing his mobile phone to surf the internet, just like most students sitting around him. His learning efficiency should be improved. Beside, the class is not really difficult that he should take every class seriously and do some pre-exam tests that tutors provided before examination. He remembers an article published online recently, which reported the comments of this failing issue said by Professor John Shields, the Vice President of business school of the University of Sydney for some details about this failure rate several days ago. Professor John stated that students should notice that not all of the students who failed buss5000 are Chinese international students, there are also local students who failed the test as well as Chinese international students who got HD in this test. The English skills of those Chinese international students maybe unable to cover all the classes. IELTS test results could not totally rank your English skills. It just like you passing the driving test with full marks while it doesn’t mean that you are good at driving in real life. English should be exercised and improved in daily life.

“But does it mean that there are something wrong with the sources of international students of our university?” Angus looks at Chris.

Australia’s international education sector has undergone a rapid growth over the past decade. As statistic shows, the amounts of the cost of international students peaking at 19.2 billion AU dollars in 2015, an increase of 2.2 billion AU dollars in 2014, which strengthened the dominant position of international education industries in Australia. Australian Federal Ministry of Education claimed that there are nearly 650 thousand Chinese international students studying in Australia in 2015 and China became the world’s largest source for international students at Australian universities.

“It doesn’t really matter at all. We students should learn to accept that results are not always the ones we expected. We should find the reasons of our own.” Angus talks to himself.

屏幕快照 2016-06-01 16.37.36
The photos of advertisements of Chinese tutorials taken from the doors of the ladies room in the ABS Building. Photo: Eva HE

What should be mentioned is the fact that Chinese international student representatives put forwarded some advices on the symposium held in 2015 and school leaders accepted the advices with an open mind, which reflected that school leaders had determination to enhance their teaching quality and efficiency. School leaders also stated the  fact that there are so many tutorial classes that Chinese people opened outside school, which was of low efficiency, so there would be additional tutorials opened freely every week in the next semester for students to ask tutors questions within school.


(  Student Name: Eva HE           Student Number: 450427655           Word Count: 1251  )


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4 thoughts on “40% Failure Rate? Chinese business students demand fair go from Uni

  1. Hi Eva,

    What an interesting subject – I recall seeing some articles about this.

    A few notes on the presentation of your feature:

    – For an English speaking audience, it would have been valuable to have a translation in the caption of the advert for essay-writing services.
    – I would have loved to see a hyperlink for the John Shields article that is referred to, this would have also given balance to the content of the piece
    – Shorter chunks of text and subtitles would work for better scannability.

    It would have been very interesting to hear the side of a Buss500 lecturer, again for better balanced journalism. Also, why would students complain to the Chinese consulate because they failed a unit? I’m intrigued by this.

    It’s definitely a provocative piece and an interesting read. You may, however, want to go over the spelling and grammar a bit for better ease of reading.




  2. Hi Eva,

    Well done on your feature writing, and I really enjoyed it!

    I like the way you describe Augus’s emotion changes after finding out his examination result at the beginning of the article. I would consider it as a strong lead paragraph that helps arouse reader’s interests to the topic. Also, I noticed that you give plenty of detailed descriptions, which make the interviewee’s image very vivid to the readers.

    The photos of the advertisements of the essay-writing service and Chinese tutorials also provide another interesting perspective to the story, and I really liked that.

    However, I also noticed something could be improved here. Having some official voices from the school is important when addressing the failure rate issue of the course. It is nice that we get to see some opinions from the international relations director, Jennifer. But I think maybe it is best if we have her full name in the article, as she is one of the faculties of the school, not an anonymous student. Moreover, if you could get some first-hand information from the tutor or other faculties directly, instead of just reporting what Christ said about Jennifer would be appreciated.

    Warm regards,
    Emily Liu


    • Thank you for your comment. Your comment is helpful. While about the first hand information I have to declare that all of the information came from my own interviews. I interviewed Jennifer of course, I just use Chris as a third character to describe the whole story to make it more complete. I also interviewed Jiang. So sorry for the misleading.


  3. Hi Eva.

    I am interested in your topic, because I am an international student as well and some of my friends failed in the course.

    It is good you choose a representive person to interview. You also use some images to chunk the feature as well as show more information for readers. It is important to interview some staffs of the University such as Jennifer. It is good that you discuss the issue of the rapid growth of Australia’s international education sectors. You did well on it.

    However, I have some suggestions for you.

    You could use more hyperlinks to provide other related information or sources such as where the data of the failing rates come from, where the data of the cost of international students come from.

    You could use sub-headings to chunk the feature, which could improve the scannability.

    It would be better if you interview and use voice from some tutors of BUSS5000 or the coordinator to gain the balance of this issue.

    And it better to use high-resolution photographs.

    Overall, it’s well done, and I like this topic and your feature.


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