Exam results ban lifted, union battle reaches compromise
STUDENTS affected by industrial action at various Victorian universities have now received their results from Semester One, as the stalemate between the union and tertiary institutions draws to a close. Estella Koh reports.
Earlier this year, an industrial dispute between the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and several Victorian universities left many international and local students without their academic results from Semester One. Fortunately for students at six campuses – Monash, La Trobe, Deakin, Swinburne, University of Ballarat and Victoria University – the ban was lifted as their respective universities embarked on separate discussions with the union and reached favorable outcomes.
For students, the end of the results ban was a welcome conclusion to the saga as they were notified of their results from Semester One. Significantly, both Swinburne University and Monash University made appeals to the Fair Work Comission (FWC) on the grounds that the ban had affected their students’ health and welfare.
Swinburne University first won a week-long ban on all industrial action after presenting a case before the FWC which argued that the lack of certainty over their enrollment status could affect students’ psychological health.
Following suit, Monash University later won its own appeals and announced a successful removal of the results ban on August 14.
During negotiations, it was pointed out that NTEU had neglected the wellbeing of students by failing to consider the impact of the ban on supplementary exams and subjects with pre-requisites. Subsequent appeals from NTEU were rejected and the university was able to resume its operations.
At RMIT, many students studying at the off-shore Singapore campus, SIM-RMIT, suffered a similar backlash.
It was reported that a total of 2,500 first and second year students in Singapore had their results withheld. Without access to news of the ongoing negotiations in Victoria, many were unsure of the reasons behind the embargo. On August 22, discussions led to the ban being lifted and the university announced that it would be working to release the Semester One results of both local and international campuses.
Many students expressed their frustration with the ban, which they say affected the application of summer units, scholarships, research programs and transfers in addition to stalling course progression.
Cheryl Chai, an international student from Singapore who is currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree at Monash, had three out of her four grades withheld due to the results ban.
“I was hesitant to apply for units because I kept receiving emails and the situation became very draggy. There was no special exemption and the timing of the results’ release and information sessions for exchange programs was incoherent.”