Daily News Roundup

July 9, 2019

TUESDAY JULY 9

A proposed new law aimed at stopping students paying to have assignments or exams done by someone else, could snare parents and friends simply proofreading and making minor changes to their childrens’ work, according to universities.

The Federal Government has drafted legislation making it an offence to provide or advertise so-called “contract cheating” services, including websites offering to complete assignments or sit exams in exchange for a fee.

People found guilty under the proposed law could face up to two years in prison or a fine of up to $210,000.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said while the bill was needed to send a “powerful signal” to contract cheating providers, some of its wording was too broad.

“There’s a phrase [in the bill] describing prohibiting the provision of “any part of a piece of work or assignment” that a student’s required to complete,” Ms Jackson said.

“We’re concerned that that might mean that if you were a mum or a dad at home proofreading your kid’s essay, you say ‘those three sentences don’t work very well, how about you use this different sentence or this different construction or these different words?’, that that kind of assistance might be captured.

“I don’t think anyone wants that to be the case so we’d just like some of the language to have a little more attention before … they get to the very final version of the draft.”

Associate Professor Phillip Dawson from Deakin University’s Centre For Research In Assessment And Digital Learning agreed the phrasing was too vague.

“If I say ‘hey it would be great if you reworded that sentence to be this other way’, is that providing cheating services?” he said.

“If a student passes a note to another student in an exam or an older sibling offers to do the stats for their younger sibling’s assignment, that shouldn’t be a crime. That should be something that universities’ existing academic integrity procedures should deal with.”

In a statement, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said contract cheating undermined the integrity of Australia’s higher education system and needed to be stamped out.

“A degree from an Australian university is valuable and the Morrison Government is protecting the investment we’re making in higher education and protecting the value of our $35 billion international student sector by cracking down on cheats,” he said.

“The bill will give TEQSA (the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) the power to seek Federal Court injunctions to require internet service providers to block access to domestic and international websites promoting cheating services.”

Mr Tehan said the legislation explicitly exempted any academic support authorised by universities, for example, scribing assistance for a student with a disability.

“I provided the draft legislation in April for consultation and will take the feedback into account when finalising the bill,” he said.

“I expect to introduce it to Parliament this year.”

National Union of Students president Desiree Cai said contract cheating rates were difficult to measure but were believed to be becoming more widespread.

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Ashleigh Barty has reinforced her position as Australia’s tennis darling with a typical humble and positive response to being bundled out of Wimbledon at the hands of American Alison Riske.

Bidding to become the first Australian woman to make the quarter-finals at the All England Club since Jelena Dokic 19 years ago, Barty fell 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a fourth-round nail-biter on Monday.

The Court 2 boilover also ended Barty’s 15-match winning streak and scuppered the 23-year-old’s hopes of completing a rare French Open-Wimbledon title double.

Barty even delved deeper into her back-catalogue of Disney quotes to reference musical Annie in her post-match media conference as she kept the defeat in perspective.

“It’s disappointing right now, but you give me an hour or so and I’ll be all good,” Barty said.

“The Sun’s still going to come up tomorrow.

“I didn’t win a tennis match. It’s not the end of the world,” Barty continued.

“Overall it’s been a hell of a trip, [though I’m] disappointed right now. Obviously it’s a tough pill to swallow, in the same breath it’s been an incredible few months.”

In reference to her Disney quotes, Barty admitted she loves Disney and the references were her way of adding a bit of fun to the proceedings.

“Well, it’s [had] a bit of interest, hasn’t it?” Barty said.

“Look, it was a way for us to enjoy it and try to bring a little bit more energy, I suppose, in the press. I love Disney. I watch it all the time.

“Look, it’s been a bit of fun for all of us. You guys caught on I think the third time around. It’s been a bit of fun.”

An upset looked remote when Barty fired down four aces to start the match before taking the opening set in 32 minutes.

Riske was unfazed, calmly working her way into the contest with some fearless hitting from the baseline.

“I couldn’t begin to say what it means to me,” Riske said.

Riske will face compatriot Serena Williams in an all-American clash for a place in the semi-finals at the All England Club, after Williams beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2.

Williams, 37, aiming for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, produced 19 unforced errors, including a bizarre mistake when she leaned over the net to hit a volley and had the point docked.

The story of the tournament in 15-year-old American sensation Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff has come to an end after a straight-sets loss to seventh seed Simona Halep.

The Romanian — the seventh seed and former world number one — proved far too good for the Wimbledon debutant, winning 6-3, 6-3 in only 75 minutes.

After stunning Venus Williams then saving two match points en route to beating Polona Hercog last week, Gauff was suddenly the hottest ticket in town but she was always going to find it tough against Halep, last year’s French Open champion and the first top-10 opponent she had ever faced.

Bidding to become the youngest Wimbledon quarter-finalist since fellow-15-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1991, Gauff was by no means overawed, keeping the crowd entertained with some crashing backhands and athletic recoveries, but there were also far too many simple errors that the American was never going to get away with at this stage of the tournament.

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A young, gifted musician may have taken up to nine MDMA capsules before dying at a music festival in NSW, an inquest has heard.

The coroner is investigating a string of drug-related deaths at festivals across the state over the past two summers, which prompted a crackdown from the State Government.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Peggy Dwyer said Mr Brosnan’s friends purchased 30 MDMA pills from a dealer on the day of the festival.

While they could not be sure how many he ingested, they said he took the most out of the group and estimated he may have taken six to nine.

Mr Brosnan became very unwell at Sydney Olympic Park train station where he lost consciousness and his temperature rose to 41.9 degrees Celsius.

Ms Dwyer told the court Mr Brosnan was “very bright and very kind” and was a gifted musician.

She said his use of MDMA began in 2014 and friends reported he would sometimes use up to 10 pills on a night out.

“Because he functioned so well and was doing so well in life and was so clever and creative and was getting on with his life as a responsible young adult, Callum’s parents were not aware of his interest in drugs,” Ms Dwyer said.

The inquest will examine the deaths of six young people who took varying amounts of MDMA and died under different circumstances, including whether they drank alcohol or not.

Ms Dwyer said over the next few weeks they would examine why young people took illicit drugs.

“In this courtroom, there is no judgement of the young people themselves nor of their friends who may have participated in drug use with them,”

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