Monthly Archives

October 2020

PRAYER FOR THE QUEENSLAND ELECTION

By Australian Newsletter

There has been an exciting new initiative launched to pray for the Queensland Elections coming up on 31st October.

There are 3 aspects to this:-

  1. A small booklet titled State Election Prayer Guide.
  1. A weekly ZOOM prayer meeting on Thursday night 7.30-9.00pm (Queensland time) until 5th November. ZOOM meeting number 99088282300 password 631082.
  1. A website using the Kajabi Platform where you can access more specific prayer points as they become available (and particularly for your electorate).

This will be available to everyone at no cost when you sign up and click on Connect to the Online Community.

So go to www.prayerqldelections.com  to download the Prayer Guide and connect to the online community.

For further information email dmrowsome@gmail.com or go to www.brisbaneprays.com

Source: Brisbane Prays

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FOREIGN STUDENTS BULLY UNIVERSITY LECTURERS TO PASS

By Australian Newsletter

Australian university lecturers are being cowed into lowering their academic standards by “highly organised” networks of international students making co-ordinated attacks against any staff members whose assignments and examinations prove too difficult to pass. Despite presenting themselves as the purveyors of elite education, academics at some of the country’s most prestigious universities said they had been forced to “dumb down” courses to ensure foreign students with little or no English were able to complete degrees, or else they risked being targeted by official complaints signed by groups of up to 100 pupils. Academics are concerned the lowering of standards for overseas students means Australian students’ education is also suffering.

The University of Sydney confirmed it had received 135 formal complaints about staff regarding coursework or assessments last year. “A significant number of similar complaints indicates there was a co-ordinated approach among some complainants about a relatively small number of teaching staff,” a spokesperson said. “The main reason for complaints were related to assessment processes that were alleged to have been conducted unreasonably or unfairly. All complaints were considered and, where appropriate, used to inform improvements in teaching practice.” One professor, who teaches at a respected Group of Eight university in Sydney, said the complaints were taken so seriously by university management that they had the potential to derail careers.

“International students didn’t used to be organised but in the past two years that has all changed,” said the lecturer, who asked not to be named for fear of professional repercussions. “Their studying strategy is usually memorisation: memorisation of sample questions, and they always request the exams from the previous year to memorise the answers, memorise the methods in a very narrow way, and they have an expectation that the exam this year is going to be very similar. “If your exam questions are a bit challenging or written in a way that is different to what they have done before, then they will complain. There are groups that put together letters to complain, signed by 100 students. Then those letters go high up in the university and we can get into trouble. It has happened to several colleagues — it has happened to me.

“We then have to provide explanations … and meet with one of your supervisors to discuss it and that kind of thing.  “The universities don’t care about educating these students,  but they depend on the money that comes from them. “The trade-off is clear. It is actually easier for us to adapt to these students’ expectations. We know they’ll give us very good evaluations if we do, and then we’re not going to get into trouble and we are even going to be praised. There is really no incentive to set difficult exams.” Another professor at a Group of Eight university said the situation had been exacerbated by an over-reliance on Australia’s $34bn international education industry and that foreign students were too often admitted to courses despite lacking the English skills needed to understand the subject.

“It is absolutely corrupt. It’s a disgraceful system,” she said. “I don’t know what passes for language training in China but most of the students I see from there haven’t even the most basic English skills and can’t construct a single, grammatical sentence. And these are the masters degree candidates.” She said the situation had also resulted in a dramatic surge in cheating, and that complaints to university management were routinely ignored. “What these students do now is they’ll just buy an essay, written by someone else, as they know you can’t trace it.” she said.  “Even though you know they didn’t write it, there’s an unwillingness, when you report it to the academic integrity office, for them to say, ‘This needs to be dealt with’. I started out idealistic but I don’t even bother sending stuff to academic integrity anymore.”

A number of universities contacted denied they had experienced any issues with co-ordinated complaints against staff, while a University of NSW spokesperson said there had been “no major letter-writing campaigns” regarding coursework or assessments. UNSW economics professor Gigi Foster said universities that prioritised revenue over learning were depriving both Australian students and international students of a world-class education. “We have a responsibility to domestic students and to the taxpayers who are underwriting the university sector in this country,” Ms Foster said. “We also have a responsibility if we make an offer to a foreign student and we bring them to our shores and expect them to succeed, but they can’t because our admissions process has failed them due to economic reasons. That is a moral travesty, and it’s offensive.”

The temptations for campuses are clear. Even three years ago, high-fee-paying foreign students accounted for almost 30 per cent of tertiary students across the country and made up more than 40 per cent of all students across the nation’s most prestigious six east coast institutions. That year, international students injected $708m into annual revenue at UNSW, $756m at Melbourne University, $752m at the University of Sydney and $810m at Monash University. University of Sydney professor Salvatore Babones said the financial windfalls were so vast, many institutions had devised “preparatory programs” to ensure foreign students could be admitted even if their English failed to meet the university’s official prerequisites.

He said the University of Sydney required foreign students to attain an International English Language Testing System score of 7.0 — which is considered a “good user” of the language, before they could be enrolled. However, the university had a “pathway program” with Taylors College that accepts students with a score of 5.0, or a “modest user” with only a partial command of the language. “The rationale is they attend a year-long English language curriculum at Taylors College (before transitioning to Sydney University). But we hear a lot of stories about the program not being taken seriously by students and that it’s a culture in which it is impossible to fail,” he said. “We know something like 95% of international students come through the preparatory programs and then move on to the university of their choice. It is a situation that is ripe for abuse.”

The programs are set to be one of the issues raised in the NSW government’s parliamentary inquiry into the future development of the state’s tertiary education system. One Nation NSW Upper House member Mark Latham said the inquiry would look closely at the universities’ reliance on foreign funding. “They dumb down their academic standards and basically tell overseas students, ‘If you can pay the money, you’ll end up with a piece of paper from our degree factory’,” Mr Latham said. All universities approached, including the Group of Eight institutions, denied there was a problem when it comes to international students who cannot understand what they are being taught.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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SENATOR FACES THREAT OF FINES FOR ‘INSULTING’ ANTI- DISCRIMINATION COMMISSIONER

By Australian Newsletter

A Tasmanian Liberal senator and her supporters have been warned they could be prosecuted for “insulting” the state’s anti-discrimination commissioner in a rapidly escalating war over free speech in the transgender debate. Equal Opportunity Tasmania, in an email sent to Senator Claire Chandler, suggests she could face prosecution for “hindering” and “insulting” the anti-discrimination commissioner. The row followed Anti-­Discrimination Commissioner Sarah Bolt’s decision to accept a complaint against Senator Chandler over a statement, emailed to a constituent, that read: “Women’s sport, women’s toilets and women’s changing rooms are designed for the female sex and should remain that way.”

Senator Chandler, who has been outspoken on the issue since her election to federal parliament in 2019, has publicly called on the commissioner to dismiss the complaint, and only last week emailed a letter to Ms Bolt saying she would not withdraw or amend her statement. Senator Chandler said about 20 minutes after emailing that letter, an Equal Opportunity Tasmania investigation and conciliation officer emailed her, supplying “a sample of emails that the commissioner has received since your public statements about the complaint”. “Legal action can be taken against any person who uses insulting language towards any person exercising any power under the Anti-Discrimination Act,” the email said. It warned that those who “hinder” or “use insulting language” against the commissioner could be fined.

Senator Chandler said the threat was “extraordinary” and she would not rule out a complaint to the Senate privileges committee alleging interference with her work as a parliamentarian.  “The clear implication here is that they don’t only want me to stop speaking about this issue more broadly, they also want me to tell other Australians to do the same,” Senator Chandler said. “I’m simply not going to do that. There are genuine concerns at play here around my ability to undertake my role as a member of parliament and be able to discuss public policy issues with constituents. “Even more so, there’s a concern that constituents are not going to be able to contact their MPs inquiring as to their views and expect an honest response.”

Ms Bolt did not respond to a request for comment, her office citing “confidentiality provisions in the state’s anti-discrimination act.” The complaint against Senator Chandler was made by a constituent who emailed her seeking a further explanation of her views, following an opinion piece she penned for Hobart’s The Mercury newspaper. The constituent then complained about the article and the senator’s emailed explanation. Ms Bolt rejected the complaint related to the article but accepted the component related to the email. Ms Bolt said Senator Chandler’s comments in the email were such that a person who is a member of the LGBTIQ+ and gender diverse community could be humiliated, intimidated, offended and insulted.”  Senator Chandler said she would consider all legal options if the complaint was not dropped.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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ISRAEL FOLAU DECLINES TO KNEEL IN ANTI-RACISM PROTEST

By Australian Newsletter

Israel Folau was at the centre of fresh controversy when he opted against taking a knee in a Super League anti-racism protest, a decision backed as a “personal choice” by his coach. Folau, 31, playing for Catalans Dragons, raised eyebrows at the kick-off against champions St Helens in Leeds when he remained standing while other players and officials dropped to their knees in support of the Black Lives Matter cause. “As a group of players and coaching staff, we spoke about it in depth and as a club we are completely against racism and all for equal opportunity,” said Dragons coach Steve McNamara.  “But there were some players and staff who made the decision not to take the knee. “That was based on personal choice, they have their own reasons for doing that, and we decided we would respect anyone’s personal choice on the matter.”

Former Wallabies forward and Nine columnist Peter FitzSimons was among those who questioned Folau’s non-actions. Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia in May 2019 over a homophobic social media post. However, he made his return to the 13-a-side code in February this year with the Dragons after a decade playing Australian rules football and rugby union. Taking a knee at sports events has become increasingly common in recent weeks. However, a number of Formula One drivers have opted to stand instead in pre-race protests. Recently Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic became the first NBA player not to kneel during the national anthem since the league resumed.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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