Student loses court case over failed assignment


A Master’s student who took Monash University to court over a failed assignment has had his case dismissed.

Chinmay Naik, 23, was failed for a journalism assessment in which he produced a video on the negative stereotypes of certain breeds of dogs.

He asked the Supreme Court of Victoria to grant him an exemption from his assessment result, and declare an overall pass grade for the video journalism unit and completion of his Master’s degree. 

However, Justice Melinda Richards handed down her decision this morning, stating Mr Naik did not have an arguable case and that “these matters are solely for the University – areas for academic judgement where the court will not intrude”.

“[The court’s judicial review jurisdiction] does not extend to marking an assignment or otherwise determining questions of academic merit,” Justice Richards said.

Chinmay Naik outside court during his earlier hearing.

Monash University said Mr Naik’s video submission was marked twice in accordance with the university’s assessment policy, and that he was given a fail grade both times.

Mr Naik claimed the person who marked his assignment the second time was the same lecturer who initially failed him, which he believed was an “unlawful” breach of university policies.

“The lack of documentation and the mystery as to the identity of the second marker might, if not explained by other evidence, support the inference advanced by Mr Naik,” Justice Richards said.

However she said a “failure by a decision-maker to follow a relevant policy or procedure is not necessarily a ground for a remedy on judicial review”.

“In my view, none of the alleged failures to follow the policies are of such an order that they could invalidate the assessment of his video assignment.

“Even if I am wrong in that conclusion, the most the court could possibly do would be to set aside the assessment and order the university to remark the video assignment according to law. The university offered to do exactly this in March 2018, an offer that Mr Naik did not accept.” 

Justice Richards ordered Mr Naik to pay the university’s legal costs.