Australian professor told 'pass us or die'

July 5, 2002

Police in Australia's Northern Territory are investigating threats against a university professor who was warned he would be decapitated if students failed an English language examination.

Greg Hill, the dean of education at the Northern Territory University, received a fax threatening him with decapitation days before 60 foreign students were to sit the exam. The fax came after anonymous letters were sent claiming the university had failed to meet expectations.

A number of the students failed the exam last year, after paying A$5,000 (£1,800) for the semester-long course.

Australian Associated Press reported that Syd Sterling, the territory's education minister, had ordered an inquiry into the teaching of English as a second language at the university after complaints from Chinese students.

Recent government reports revealed a large increase in the number of students from China and Hong Kong studying in Australia. In the last six months of 2001, the number of visas granted to prospective students in mainland China jumped by 66 per cent - to 7,000 - compared with the same period the year before.

An estimated 75,000 Chinese will study in Australian education institutions in 2002 and their fees are likely to add A$1.5 billion to the Australian economy, while boosting institutional coffers by millions of dollars.

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