If you needed any more evidence that higher education has become a joke, consider the “professor” at Southern New Hampshire University who failed a student for correctly noting that Australia is both a country and a continent.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

Southern New Hampshire University has apologized to a student who failed an assignment because her professor insisted Australia was a continent, not a country.

“We have apologized to Ashley, replaced the instructor, & are reimbursing her tuition for the course,” the university said on Twitter.

Ashley Arnold, who is completing a sociology degree online, filed a report with the university when she received a failing grade on a project outline that was supposed to compare a social norm in the United States with that of another country, BuzzFeed News reported.

Her grading rubric was filled with multiple zeros because, according to the professor, “Australia is a continent; not a country.” She told Arnold that the “error made it nearly impossible” for her to have accurately completed the assignment.

Arnold thought the grade was a joke at first, she told BuzzFeed. When she realized it was real, she wrote an email to the professor, attempting to persuade her that Australia was in fact a country. She even provided references from the university’s library.

The professor, who has not been identified, remained unconvinced but agreed to re-examine the assignment.

Arnold responded by explaining that Australia was both a continent and a country, and she urged the professor to use Google or the library to search for it. She even included a link to the Australian government’s website.

“Thank you for this web address,” the professor replied. “After I do some independent research on the continent/country issue I will review your paper.”

As a related aside, I worked briefly for SNHU online when I was caring for my mother during her final years, and I can confirm that the standards there are lax, to say the least.  I teach composition and literature and was assigned a “team leader / mentor” whose English was so abysmal that I had trouble understanding her emails.  I am not exaggerating:  her command of the English language—grammar and usage—was horrific.  I was embarrassed to be a part of that “English team” and haven’t been back.


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