Chinmay Naik speaks to media outside court. Picture: AAP/James Ross
Chinmay Naik speaks to media outside court. Picture: AAP/James Ross

Student willing to resubmit failed dog assignment

A STUDENT who launched legal action against his university over a failed masters assignment told a court he would be willing to resubmit a fresh project.

Chinmay Naik's video journalism assignment about negative stereotypes of dogs was given a fail mark of 12 out of 100 by Monash University after it granted him a 19-day extension.

The 23-year-old wants a Supreme Court judge to strike out his fail, or allow him to resubmit a new assignment for grading, on the basis of "unlawful" double marking.

Mr Naik after the court hearing. Picture: AAP/James Ross
Mr Naik after the court hearing. Picture: AAP/James Ross

Mr Naik, who unsuccessfully appealed to the Prime Minister, claims the same person marked his failed assignment twice - a claim denied by Monash but not proven.

"A fail grade on my transcript is not what I deserve … I have showed courage in coming before you," Mr Naik told the court.

Mr Naik earlier said he was inspired by a 7 News story about discrimination against a guide dog and decided to interview dog owners in the park about that issue, greyhound adoption and pets' access to public spaces.

But the marker failed him, stating: "You have submitted a video of 3 vox pops … asking very general and unconnected questions surrounding dogs."

The assignment was remarked under university policy by an unknown person and given a slightly higher fail grade.

Supreme Court Judge Melinda Richards told Mr Naik she could not "grant you an exemption from the need to pass that assessment".

"The Prime Minister is in the same position of this court that he's not going to be making any academic judgments," she said.

Mr Naik with court documents at his Oakleigh South home. Picture: Alex Coppel
Mr Naik with court documents at his Oakleigh South home. Picture: Alex Coppel

Justice Richards said the grade Mr Naik was handed was "perfectly clear", but the court would consider whether he had an "arguable" case to its lawfulness.

Counsel representing Monash University, Emily Latif, said the second marker did not wish for their identity to be disclosed and "has concern of the level of scrutiny that could follow from that".

"The interests (of the university and Mr Naik) are in conflict," Ms Latif said.

Ms Latif called for a summary judgment and that the case be dismissed.

"We say there is a public interest in assessment decisions being treated as final," she said.

Mr Naik, who was half an hour late to the hearing because he didn't have all his documents, asked the court for a 28-day extension to gather more evidence.

"No, Mr Naik, this matter has been listed for two months," Justice Richards replied.

"In fact, there has been more time to prepare for this hearing (than originally sought)."

Outside court, Mr Naik said if the matter went to trial "it will set a good precedent in students' favour".

"I believe I have the tenacity that it requires to keep appealing something I feel that's been done wrong to me," he said.

He also defended his decision to take his fail grade to the taxpayer funded courts and tribunals, with a further hearing at VCAT on September 25.

"The court accepted my application on the grounds of financial hardship and I paid $60,000 to the university," he said.

"Whatever fees the international students pay go to the Australian government."

He said if he gets another opportunity to submit a new assignment, he would choose a different topic to research than dog stereotypes.

Justice Richards has reserved her decision.



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