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Australian lecturer sought sex, cash to hike marks: Report

A law lecturer at Melbourne's Victoria University is alleged to have solicited and received "bribes in the form of sexual favours and money from some female Asian international students" to improve their marks, a media report said on Friday.

world Updated: Aug 14, 2009 13:54 IST

A law lecturer at Melbourne's Victoria University is alleged to have solicited and received "bribes in the form of sexual favours and money from some female Asian international students" to improve their marks, a media report said on Friday.

The 46-year-old is later believed to have taken his own life, apparently overdosing on prescription drugs at his home at Footscray in Melbourne, The Australian reported.

The man was a subject coordinator in the Faculty of Business and Law and was based at the university's Footscray campus, where he taught law to students of accountancy and business -- subjects in high demand among international students.

The police were preparing a brief including 10 bribery charges when they contacted the man in early May. They asked him to go to a police station. Two days after the call he was found dead.

His death and the bribery allegations have stunned colleagues at the varsity, where he had taught for several years.

"I was shocked and bewildered," a former colleague told The Australian. "He was a great colleague."

It is believed the university uncovered the allegations in December and immediately referred them to police. The man was immediately stood down but staff were told he had resigned. They were later told he had died.

It is understood the Asian students themselves were never considered suspects in the investigation, instead being treated as victims, the report said.

The university has refused to comment.

"The university has processes in place that ensure that any allegations that are made, that could constitute criminal conduct, are referred to the police," the university's senior deputy vice-chancellor, John McCallum, was quoted as saying in a statement.

Australia's education sector is bracing itself for a possible downturn in international student demand following a series of attacks on Indian students over the past three months.

The sector has also been rocked with reports of students being exploited and a migration and education scam that was unearthed. Nearly 100,000 Indian students are enrolled in various courses in Australia.

International student representatives on Thursday said there was no evidence that solicitation of bribes was a problem at Australian universities, given a lack of complaints.

Gautam Gupta, of the Federation of Indian Students of Australia, said while he had heard complaints of some private training colleges trying to solicit bribes from students to upgrade marks or falsify attendance records, no such complaints had been aimed at universities.