Reprimand for students, teacher over exam hints

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2008, 12:00am

An investigation into the alleged leaking of exam questions to students by a senior professor of surgery at the University of Hong Kong has concluded that no personal favours were involved, but that both the students and the teacher involved should be held responsible.

The three-member inquiry panel found that the teacher had dropped hints to five final-year medical students about the contents of a coming examination paper when they pressed him for information.

But the panel, led by pro-vice-chancellor Joseph Lee Hun-wei, said 'the allegation that the teacher concerned leaked the questions to individual persons or students for personal favour is unfounded'.

It recommended that in future faculty mentors and counsellors should not be involved in selecting the questions for the final version of exam papers to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

The panel members also suggested a caution letter should be issued to the teacher involved, while the students should be lectured repeatedly on the correct attitude towards learning and examinations.

The panel also included Mr Justice Patrick Chan Siu-oi, a permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal, and Grace Tang Wai-king, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology.

The incident came to light in February, when some newspapers received an e-mail from a sender who identified himself as 'Michael Forever' and claimed the professor had leaked 12 questions to the final-year students.

The faculty dropped the original set of questions and adopted a reserve set that had been prepared for emergency use.

The investigation report released yesterday said the five students had approached the teacher with a list of probable examination topics and had tried to solicit hints.

The professor had 'unintentionally' provided them with hints that coincided with some of the exam questions. The panel added that there had been no unfairness or adverse effect on any individual student, as the reserve set of questions had been adopted.

But medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki, who graduated from the HKU faculty of medicine, said the report did not address the root of the problem and the recommendations were not convincing. 'The examination system is very important as it sets the standard of our future doctors. But I think there are fallacies with the whole system, and yet the faculty gave me a feeling they are not committed to digging out the roots.'

HKU vice-chancellor Tsui Lap-chee accepted the report and its recommendations. He said a caution letter had been issued to the teacher involved and he had been relieved of his duties in the selection of final exam questions.