“How Can 50% Nursing Students Fail The Same Paper”

There’s an interesting thread on the Trademe boards today, it’s concerning the ability of nursing students to pass tests set for them in New Zealand and the requirement for them to pay to re-sit those failed tests.

It caught our attention as it ties in with what student nurse Linda Tang said a while ago and it also adds further weight to the argument of a leading academic at Auckland University, Professor Manying Ip, that international students “are seen only as cash cows”.  Professor Ip said the value of international students are being equated by schools to getting a new IT room or a swimming pool, rather than any of the non-monetary benefits they bring.

If you are an international student planning to study in New Zealand you may find the following interesting too:

“How can 50% nursing students fail the same paper

and it not be a reflection on the lecturer and the institution? Our friend is a 3rd year nursing student at AUT and she tells me today that 50% of her class have failed a presentation paper for one of her subjects. She seems resolute and is planning to work really hard to cream the nest assessment point, which will enable her to then still pass the paper. I am a nurse with post grad quals and I read her presentation and it was fantastic and much more than what I think is realsitic from an undergraduate student. I recall our lecturers, and they were by no means perfect, offering to review our draft assignments and then offer constructive advice on what needed remedying. I was fortunate and was fairly good at assignments, so never utilised this option, but more than 1/2 of my class did so routinely. This is not on offer to my friend or her cohorts. They are pretty much cut adrift. It smacks of just give us your money, and for alot of these students who are non New Zealanders, we are talking alot of money, we wont support you, then fail you and you will have to pay again. It very much reminds me of the Asian student who took the Uni to court last year (ed. Linda Tang) after they failed her for her poor English, in her last semester of her 3rd year!! Whats up with that. I’m all for having students to meet preset English standards but these needs to be identified pre registration in year 1! These Unis are a blardy law unto themselves and it makes me ashamed and angry.”

“They fail people in their third year as they have then creamed three years of fees off them, all about bums on seats.(=money in the bank for the educational institution)

It certainly smacks of that, doesn’t it? I rememeber hearing that about 70% of nursing students never complete their degree. Not sure how you could validate that but I recall it being touted as being the highest percentage of any undergraduate programme and had been for years. And still is today, as I understand. So why is that? And what are the Unis doing about it? Are their lecturers so bad that they cant teach the students what they need to know? Are the entry standards too low? I think the issues are multi factorial for sure but certainly stories like I shared in post 1 leave a very bad taste in my mouth!

I had the same thing with a management paper, where everyone failed.
BUT, my dad was a lecturer in Business and Management and he had to fail students if their English was so bad that they couldn’t get anything across on paper. It’s all very well saying “but they have the skills” – if they are unable to communicate anything on paper, then they cannot fairly pass a course where a large componant is written work. That’s what academic IELTS results are for and that’s why some universities have a better reputation than others. It’s not fair on a limited entry course for someone who can’t do the assignments gets let in (without evidence of IELTS results) when another equally skilled student without these issues misses out.

think with those numbers of failing the same subject would have to fall on the lecturer and subject at hand. Obviously they never covered it properly or it wasnt presented so that the students unserstood it. Think theyre just trying to blame students but with that high percentage the real prob should be staring them in the face.

My friend was a lecturer at AUT and was told that a certain number of students HAD to get a pass mark, otherwise they would get less funding, so she had to pass people who were totally crap, or get fired. She quit.

So clearly if people are “totally crap” as you suggest, they should have been stopped at application time, dont you think? Very bad practice and one that would surely be open to legal challenge, to allow students who were clearly not capable of passing because of their English for example, to enrol and then fail them 2-3 years down the track for poor command of the English language.

Like i said, some tertiary institutions have a better reputation and that kind of thing is a criteria involved. Every year when they list the highest rated universities, entry criteria is a measurement of quality for that exact reason. I used to work at the Overseas Admissions office at Auck Uni and I had to do a lot of comparisons on overseas unis, so I could do the credits, and they base some of that stuff on the yearly reputation results.

So if a teritary institution does not insist on academic IELTS as a pre-requisite, or has a system like AUT did where a certain number of people HAVE to pass, then there is a bad association for that institute.

hmmmm are you sure that is correct? how would your friend know this?
All nursing programs have to be certified by the nursing council so all will be similar.
We need to have exceptional standards to produce good nursing grads. Some international students who struggle with English, need to be proactive and get the assistance they require – its not up to the UNi to get them up to standard

More here

Also see our blog post –

“International Students as Customers“:- 18 June 2009

“We thought it would be good to look into the problems and expectations that international students have whilst studying in New Zealand, specifically at UNITEC.

I’ve dug up a document released in 2004 by the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) who promote the “development of higher education policy, practice and the study of teaching and learning”

The report talked about how the numbers of international students have increased dramatically in New Zealand – a three fold increase in the last eight years. With such a dramatic increase the challenge is to measure the legitimate needs and expectations of this group of students so that steps may be taken to meet, or exceed, them whilst still satisfying the needs of local students.

UNITEC didn’t meet student expectations
“The survey found a significant difference between students’ expectations of the service that an excellent tertiary institute should provide and the perception of services being provided at UNITEC….”

International students not getting value for money or adequate support
“….this study also confirms concerns of the international students with issues of assurance. The students in this study are not confident that they are getting value for money, or that the skills they are being taught will get them good results both academically and for future employment. They are also unsure of lecturers’ knowledge in their subject area and do not feel that an adequate range of support services are being offered to them. These are all issues that should concern the management at UNITEC… more

2 thoughts on ““How Can 50% Nursing Students Fail The Same Paper”

  1. If a paper isn’t difficult (to a reasonable degree), how are students to know that it is rigourously examined?
    It’s true what is said though, about students being let in to programmes and not meeting the standards because of their poor English (AND this applies to locals in NZ as well). Universities along with polytechnics allow people who are unable to coherently string together a grammatically correct sentence in English, to pursue their Master’s and Ph.D qualifications.
    Assistance to students is a policy universities have, but mostly only for 1st year students (later in the degree, you can only get out-of-class help at specified times, say 2 – 3 hours per week for subjects). Of course, this encourages students without well-developed study skills to “suck up” and brown-nose their TAs and lecturers for more leniently graded papers and exams… it’s a problem most rife in the arts(including psychology and political science)/social sciences subjects.
    Why don’t people complain when courses in the hard sciences have such high failure rates (in my course, only 10% of a programme of 300 initially, passed: the failure rates for 3rd year papers was 66% of those still in the programme.)?
    Maybe it’s because they believe that the only things that matter are things to guarantee their quality of life and not people “learning theories because those things have no practical use” <- there's the "no. 8 wire" mentality again.

  2. Nursing is in a sad state in New Zealand.


    After analyzing the collected data, researchers found that around 46% of the respondents agreed with the issue of insufficient nurses to provide safe care and 38.2% of the workplaces reported the issues of bullying and harassment.

    Around 16% of the nurses sated that they had changed their jobs citing bullying as a major issue behind their decision.

    More than 40% of nurses believe that the realities associated with their jobs were quite different from what they had expected and it involved a lot of emotional challenges as compared to their inadequate salaries.

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