New Hampshire University
A Southern New Hampshire University professor was fired for claiming "Australia is not a country" Getty

A Southern New Hampshire University professor's major error in judgement has gone viral. The professor with a PhD in Philosophy failed a student's assignment because it mentioned Australia as a country.

A 27-year-old resident of Idaho Falls, Ashley Arnold, who is pursuing an online sociology degree at Southern New Hampshire University, was assigned to write a paper comparing a social norm in the US and another country, and she chose Australia.

However, the stay-at-home mum was shocked to learn that she failed in that subject because according to the professor, "Australia is a continent, not a country."

Arnold emailed the professor, supplying references attesting to the fact that Australia is indeed a country, but the professor responded saying she will conduct an "independent research" before re-examining the assignment.

"I will gladly re-examine your week 2 milestone project report. But before I do I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project. Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall," Arnold quoted her professor as telling her, according to Buzzfeed.

"Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly. As I mentioned above I will look over your week two paper once again and see if you earned more credits than I gave you."

When Arnold responded with a link to "About Australia" on the Australian government's official website which clearly states, "Australia is both a country and a continent", the professor replied saying that she will review the paper after doing some "independent research on the continent/country issue".

The Idaho Falls resident spoke to Buzzfeed news and admitted that she first thought the professor was joking. "At first I thought it was a joke; This can't be real. Then as I continued to read I realised she was for real," she said.

"With her education levels, her expertise, who wouldn't know Australia is a country? If she's hesitating or questioning that, why wouldn't she just google that herself?" Arnold questioned.

According to the outlet, the student received an amended grade of a B+.

Meanwhile, university officials apologised following the incident and investigated the issue, following which they replaced the instructor who failed Arnold.

"We deeply regret the interaction between our professor and our student and have apologised to the student and refunded her for the class. Following an investigation, we have replaced the instructor as we strive to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in educating our students," the university said in a statement posted on Twitter

"To our friends and colleagues in Australia, we know that you are a country and a continent, best of luck in the Olympic games!" the tweet concluded.