Posted on May 4, 2023

Prestigious University Sparks Outrage After Medical Students Were Forced to Sit a ‘White Privilege’ Assessment

Padraig Collins, Daily Mail, April 29, 2023

Australia’s third highest ranked university has been forced to apologise after making students sit a ‘white privilege’ assessment as part of their coursework.

The University of Queensland ditched the results of the test after students said they thought they might be expelled for failing it – which most of them did.

First year medical students were asked to write about their ‘white privilege’ and racism in their field in a two-part task.

One student said they thought those who got a passing grade did so by gaming the system and pretending they had been racist.

‘The people who did well have frankly lied, they played into the notion that they’re racist, even if they’re not,’ they told the Courier Mail.

The assessment sparked fierce backlash prompting University of Queensland, which is ranked 53rd best in the world, to issue an apology.

The university has also removed the results from the ‘white privilege’ assessment from the overall grades of the students.

Several students who failed the controversial test said they were worried that they could be expelled from their course.

One student, who spoke anonymously, said they feared failing the assignment could affect what jobs they would get after graduating as it would lower their results.

They said that while the University of Queensland has a good global reputation, graduates with all As in assignments are looked at as better than those with Bs.

‘You could be the best doctor in the world but fail on this (white privilege test),’ they said.

The University of Queensland denied students would have been expelled for failing the ‘white privilege’ assignment.

‘After listening to students feedback on the assignment, we have advised students that the results from this assignment will not contribute to their end-of-year grades.

‘The university also acknowledged the concerns of students and apologised for any distress caused,’ a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.

‘There has been no suggestion that students would be expelled for failing this assignment as a “whole of program” approach is taken regarding progression.’

The spokesperson said learning and teaching about Indigenous Health is embedded throughout UQ’s medical program, as required by the Australian Medical Council Accreditation Standards.

‘It is our responsibility to graduate well-rounded doctors who understand the challenges faced by our Indigenous and marginalised communities.

‘The students will be provided with further opportunities to deepen their understanding of the important and sometimes challenging concepts the assignment addressed,’ the spokesperson said.

An email from its medical school dean Professor Stuart Carney sent to students reportedly said the results had been removed from the final grade.

A University of Queensland spokeswoman said the student’s feedback had been taken seriously by the faculty.

‘After listening to students’ feedback on the assignment, we have advised students that the results from this assignment will not contribute to their end-of-year grades,’ she said.

One student said they understood it was important to learn about different cultures in the industry, but claimed the assessment took things ‘too far’.

‘It should be a skill that’s promoted, but not tested on,’ they said.