Story by Mitchell Dunk edited for online by Suraya Daly

The University of Sydney is under scrutiny after revealed its Media and Politics lecturer set an assignment task for students to “plant a fake story in a rival publication”.

Students are outraged when they had to plant fake articles in the University of New South Wales’ student newspaper Tharunka for a group assignment.

Titled “Prank Tharunka“, the assignment instructions read: ““design and execute a false story that you attempt to get published in the UNSW student newspaper.”

Dr. Peter Chen who set the task is facing heavy critisicm from students and academics.

University of Technology Sydney’s Journalism lecturer Jenna Price says it is outrageous.

“I think it’s completely unethical as a journalist to ask people to plant stories which are wrong,” she said.

She says that not only was it wrong to set the assignment, but to target the University of New South Wales’ online publication Tharunka.

“Dr. Chen may well have recognised the endemic problem with the assignment because he was not asking them to do it on the University of Sydney’s own publication Honi Soit, but targeting a rival publication.”

Dr Chen was unable for  comment but told his students were not encouraged to be deceptive, rather to analyse the techniques of public relations in society.

Although she did not do the assignment, Bell Taylor says it had little educational value.

“As a student you expect that if someone’s giving you a task, then it’s of some educational benefit and I don’t think it’s part of the curriculum to test you on your ethical limit,” she said.

Queensland University of Technology journalism students also expressed concern about the exercise.

“At the end of the day, that’s the assignment, that’s what you have to do so it’s a tough position to be in but definitely would feel uncomfortable about it.”

The University of Sydney has declined to be interviewed but said in a statement the lecturer did not follow the University’s ethical procuderes and an internal review was under way.