Tue, Dec 01, 2009
The New Paper
S'pore students yet to get results

By Veena Bharwani

YOU'D expect most students to heave a sigh of relief once their examinations are over.

Not this lot.

Hundreds of graduating students, including Singaporeans in six universities across Australia, are feeling stressed and anxious even though they have completed their final exams there.

The reason: They may not be able to graduate as some professors are not releasing final examination results due to a strike.

Australia's National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has asked its members to withhold the results for all students.

The professors participating in the results ban are demanding higher pay and better working conditions.

The NTEU, which has more than 26,000 members according to its website, has been in negotiations for new enterprise agreements covering academic and general staff at a number of universities in Australia, including RMIT University and Melbourne University.

While graduating students can apply directly to the NTEU for an exemption from the ban, they are still worried.
Said Mr Carlin Tam, 25, a Singaporean student at RMIT University: "This has been going on for several months.

But during the semester, I didn't really pay much attention to it as we simply got a day off when professors refused to teach because of the strike.

"It was kind of fun to skip school during the semester. But now, it is serious as I may not be able to graduate."

Mr Tam has completed his bachelor's degree in Professional Communications at the university and is now back in Singapore .

He added that he received an e-mail a few days ago from his course coordinator asking him to submit an application to the NTEU to be exempted from the ban.

Still waiting

"I have already done this, but I have not received any news yet. We are supposed to get our results on 30 Nov," he said.

Said fellow RMIT student Deng Lixin: "I've started applying for jobs in Singapore so this is really serious. If I don't get my certificate, I can't get a job."

The 21-year-old student, who did a Bachelor of Communication in Advertising degree, added: "Strikes are very common in Australia and most of the time we ignore them."

In an e-mail statement to The New Paper, RMIT University's deputy vice-chancellor Jim Barber said that the university does not support any action that has the potential to disadvantage students.

It is putting processes in place to ensure that the impact on RMIT students is kept to a minimum.

Said Professor Barber: "The NTEU ban may impact some, but not all programmes. We are asking our valued students and partners to be patient if delays occur in processing the release of results.

"The university hopes to finalise an agreement soon. However, the university cannot agree to all NTEU claims without jeopardising its commitment to maintaining sustainable growth."

He added that less than 1 per cent of its staff are involved in the results ban.

He did not reveal how many students are affected by the ban, only that "it is likely to be in the minority".

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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