Students and administrators at Baptist University (HKBU) will meet today to discuss the recent student protests over mandatory Mandarin classes. Speaking to Young Post, Lau Tsz-kei, the student union leader, said that he expects the meetings will help identify problems with lessons, which are a graduation requirement.
The meetings will be attended by the vice-chancellor, as well as members of the Chinese department.
The protests arose after the results of a recent Mandarin language test were released. Students need to pass the test to avoid having to take Mandarin classes, which they then must pass to graduate. Seventy per cent of the test takers failed.
Mandarin was made mandatory in 2007 after a 2003 study ranked HKBU last in terms of Mandarin proficiency.
A video surfaced over the weekend showing Lau swearing at a teacher in the university’s language centre during the protest. He called it a “slip of the tongue” and said he did not intend to use foul language at all.
The university made the exemption test available for the first time last year.
Lau said most students were opposed to Mandarin being a requirement for graduation, arguing that the subject was not mandatory at most other universities.
Lau said the students aren’t protesting against learning Mandarin. “The university offers many other languages; what students don’t understand is why the language must be Mandarin.”
He says students should be allowed to decide their own schedules, with the Mandarin course possibly meaning an overload of classes for some students.