What HK students and teachers have to say about HKBU suspending two students over protesting its compulsory Mandarin course

What HK students and teachers have to say about HKBU suspending two students over protesting its compulsory Mandarin course

The university has suspended two students, following a stand-off with staff at the university’s Language Centre over the language module


Lau Tsz-kei said he will continue to fight to get the Mandarin requirement removed.
Photo: Winson Wong/SCMP

Students from across the city joined students from Baptist University (HKBU) as they protested against the suspension of Lau Tsz-kei, the student union’s president, and fellow student Andrew Chan Lok-hang. Student unions from the University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong joined HKBU students at the demonstration. They demonstrated at HKBU’s Jockey Club Courtyard and Shaw Tower.

“It’s a disgrace to suppress students. Let’s protect the integrity of procedures,” students chanted. “[The] black-hearted principal is full of lies. Discriminating against students, and the punishment policy is a mess.”

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Last week, Lau was filmed using foul language towards university staff during a stand-off over a Mandarin test that all students are required to take. If students do not pass, they have to take a Mandarin module, which must be completed before they are allowed to graduate. Seventy per cent of students who took the test last year failed. They are arguing that the test should be scrapped, or made easier.

The students from the various universities want HKBU’s president, Roland Chin Tai-hong, to retract the suspensions. Young Post was on the scene when Lau give a speech at the demonstration. He expressed his disappointment at the recent actions of the institution’s requirements to graduate by passing Mandarin courses, and stated that he will continue to fight for the abolition of this requirement.

A student expressed their views about the language requirement on Facebook page Secrets.

“I don’t think that learning Mandarin should be compulsory, because we don’t use it in our daily lives,” the user wrote. “It’s not used as the language of instruction at the university. Some students might have to learn Japanese or German if they’re studying in Japan or Germany […],” said the HKU student.

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“Learning Mandarin doesn’t necessarily mean students are better. There are other ways – being better at IT, learning another language, or better classes. Why does graduating require passing a Mandarin course? There should be clearer discussions with the students.”

Teachers, including a university administrator, have also weighed in on the matter. The Confederation of Tertiary Institutes Staff Unions, which represents staff unions from six universities also issued a statement on Thursday. It urged the school to allow the two students to continue their studies until investigations have been completed. The group said HKBU was “delivering a verdict before a trial”.

Edited by Ginny Wong


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