Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sydney University condemned by the Chinese: A case study of how to fail in business in Asia

In October 2011 the Vice-Chancellor , University of Sydney, The Rev Dr Michael Spence, announced that the University will accept for entry into the University grades achieved in China's National College Entrance Examination(or Gaokao in Pinyin).

On February 21 2012, the Chinese state owned English publication, China Daily, reported:
Compared with the admission cut-offs set by Chinese universities, the entry score set by theUniversity of Sydney is very low, according to the guide to academic entry requirements for Chinese students applying to undergraduate programs at the university in 2012.
The entry score is listed by China's municipality or province. In Shanghai, for instance, students with a minimum gaokao score of 468 can apply for the university, which is more than 100 points less than the score needed to enter China's top universities, such as Peking University orTsinghua University.

The publication is state owned and serves to disseminate the views of the Chinese leadership.

That the Daily has chosen to describe the University's cut-off mark as "very low", and then compared it unfavourably to Peking and Tsinghua universities should be of concern to Sydney University for the words convey a lack , if not a loss of regard for the University's standing.The reasons are unclear, but regardless of what the reasons might be, the University obviously does not enjoy the confidence of the Chinese leadership.
While their motives are not known, what is clear is that the above has followed the Reverend's decision to accept NCEE marks for admission. While he might have felt he was doing poor Chinese students and their families a favour, the Chinese reaction is that he has been motivated by money. As another state owned if not controlled publication , the Shenzhen Daily put it:
A growing number of Australian universities are preparing to lower the enrollment requirements for Chinese students in the hope of enrolling more high school graduates from the country.

This is an opinion shared by younger Chinese as well, who have made their opinions known on the website OffBeatChina
In that sense, the reaction of the Chinese leadership is easily understood as a simple taking of an advantage when the opportunity to do so is offered.The Reverend offered the opportunity by showing the University as being willing to lower standards to gain more fee paying students, the Chinese leadership took advantage of that opening to publicly demonstrate the superiority of Chinese institutions.
Any Asian would have seen that coming.


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