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Testing times

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Australian universities have been popular with Chinese students keen to earn a high-quality degree taught in an English language environment. But a university in Melbourne may be receiving fewer Chinese applicants in future after one of its exam questions leaked online.

The test set by the Human Resources Management faculty at Monash University caused a stir in China after a multiple-choice question was posted on social media. It asked the taker to choose an answer for the following blank: “There is a saying in China that government officials only tell the truth when they are ____”.

Among the possible responses was “drunk and careless”, which was deemed as the correct answer by the examiners.

This was all too much for the Global Times, which questioned whether the exam was “deliberately humiliating China”. The affronted newspaper also thundered a warning that questions like this “will cause the youth in Australia and the rest of the world to have a serious misunderstanding of China”.

Oriental Daily also pitched in, noting that Chinese students at the Melbourne-based university were “strongly dissatisfied” with the situation.

Administrators at Monash speedily launched an investigation, withdrew the question from the exam paper and suspended the teachers who had devised it. They have since apologised unreservedly for “defaming China”, says Oriental Daily. The newspaper also quoted Professor Zhu Lijia of the China National School of Administration as saying that some overseas universities “are often keen to misinterpret China’s national conditions, including degrading the image of Chinese officials, and showing contempt for China’s development”.


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