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Victorian TAFE institute under investigation for passing students who should have failed

BOX Hill Institute is alleged to have marked up some international students’ exam papers to ensure a pass rate. Daniel Driscoll reports.

Photo: shho

Photo: shho

Four former teachers and two students at Box Hill Institute have accused the TAFE institution of altering international students’ exam papers to ensure students who should have failed passed.

In a story released by Fairfax media on March 11, the group alleged that exam papers had been re-marked, increasing the scores of some students to a pass rate of 50. They also alleged the school had failed to investigate concerns about suspected cheating by some students.

The allegations were referred to the state’s anti-corruption watchdog the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) in October, and those involved have also raised their concerns with the Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert.

A spokeswoman for the minister said the government “takes any allegation of misconduct in our training system very seriously”.

“IBAC has recommended that these concerns be referred to the appropriate authorities including the Victorian Ombudsman, ASQA and the Victorian Privacy Commissioner.”

The complaint has also been referred to Minister Herbert’s department.

The spokeswoman said the Minister had spoken to Box Hill Institute’s new chief executive Norman Gray and had “received assurances that stringent and robust processes were being applied in the marking and assessment of international students”.

“International education is a $4.7 billion industry that is vitally important to Victoria. The Government needs to ensure that high quality students apply, both for the good of the industry and for the tens of thousands of students who flock to Melbourne to get a qualification and better their lives back home,” she said.

In 2013, a survey by the Australian Education Union TAFE revealed that Victorian TAFE teachers felt pressured to pass incompetent students. It found that 54 per cent of TAFE teachers felt pressured to pass students who might not be competent.

In an interview with Fairfax, Australian Education Union TAFE president Greg Barclay said budget cuts in the last several years had put a strain on TAFEs, which relied on student enrolments to sustain their income.

Queried on whether the allegations would effect international students attending the institute, Council of International Students Australia president Thomson Ch’ng said the issue needed to be addressed by several governing bodies.

“Government and education institutions need to clearly communicate effectively to the public and most importantly to international students… We want to see clear strategies on how they’ll be addressed.”

Box Hill Institute could not be reached for comment.

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