Knowing he has little chance of getting a university place, the student, who refused to give his real name, was at the Vocational Training Council on Monday, applying for a spot. "I know my chances are slim but I still want to give it a try by appealing. My grades were good enough to earn a university spot, if I had not failed Chinese," he said.
When asked to give details about plagiarism in his work, he refused to reply, saying that it may affect the results of his appeal.
Modern College said it had suspended the teacher who had taught the 23 students, whom it refused to identify.
"That teacher was too honest" in passing on the students' work in its original form to the authority, the college's chief principal Kason Chan Kay-sang said. He said it is possible other schools refine their students' work before submitting it.
Education-sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen criticised Chan's response as a "serious accusation" about the education industry, saying Chan hinted that plagiarism was common.
"If the principal does not have evidence to support his statement, he should take it back and apologise to the education sector," Ip said.
Chan said the school was not responsible for the plagiarism, blaming the examinations authority for not giving them software to check students' work.
The authority's spokesman said it had given principals and teachers guidelines on procedures and regulations on dealing with plagiarism. He said it did not plan to ask all schools to install plagiarism-detecting software.