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'Money for entrance' lurks in college admissions

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-07-23 15:30

BEIJING - As colleges in China begin delivering letters of admission, some parents cannot wait to make a deal with them -- like spend 1 million yuan ($162,000) buying a place for their child.

If their child has failed to perform well in June's national college entrance exam (CEE) and their scores have not met the college's standards, money is another option.

Though the "money for entrance" practice is prohibited by China's educational authorities, it in fact still happens.

Searching on the Internet, many websites offered advice to parents on how to place their child in major colleges using money.

Xinhua reporters spoke to an agent whose details were on a website titled "qiuxiaojiaoyu" and asked the price for entering a college.

Prices vary for different colleges, the agent calling himself Chen said via the telephone. When mentioning a major college in Nanjing, in east China's Jiangsu Province, the reporter was quoted 1 million yuan.

Chen promised a full refund if the student was not enrolled.

The price was confirmed by a member of staff at a college in Nanjing, who refused to be named. "The price was about 200 or 300 thousand yuan last year, but it has surged to at least 1 million yuan as the available quota has been cut to one fifth from last year," he told the reporter.

Places being traded are widely believed to come from various "reserve plans" of colleges.

In China, colleges are given by the provincial government a fixed total quota when recruiting new students. They must recruit most students openly according to their CEE scores.

However, they are also allowed to independently recruit a small percentage of students, which used to be 5 percent of the total quota, who do not qualify in terms of their CEE scores but are "excellent" in other fields such as art or sport.

The "reserve plan" or "independent recruit plan," which is legal is widely used in Chinese colleges.

It is just a "small percentage" that breed corruption in educational fields, said Yin Fei, associate professor with the School of Education Science under Nanjing Normal University.

Through various reserve plans, colleges can decide the candidates internally, thus rich parents are carrying to colleges bags of cash so their child can get in through a plan, an unnamed parent in east China's Shandong Province told reporters.

Another unnamed college staff member in Shandong revealed that his college earns more than 10 million yuan each year by trading entrance places included in the reserve plan.

"The 'money for entrance' practice has infringed upon the legal rights of most of students and blemished the fairness and justice of the CEE," said Yin.

According to a circular issued in May by the Ministry of Education, it ordered colleges to reduce the 5 percent quota for the reserve plan to 1 percent.

The ministry also said it prohibits and will seriously investigate colleges' illegal practice of "money for entrance" and students involved will not get registered.

The original intention of various reserve plans is to enhance the independence of colleges in recruiting, have a balance of where students come from and give opportunities to those who lack scores but are outstanding in other areas, according to Yin.

"However, in actual implementation, the quota for the plans are often goods traded between the rich and the powerful and a 'cake' shared by a small group with prestige," said Yin.

Zhang Yangsheng, a researcher of the Jiangsu Institute of Educational Science Research, said the most important way to curb the "money for entrance" practice is transparency, including publicizing information of all students recruited through the reserve plan and explain the reasons why they were recruited.

Zhang advised educational authorities to specify information transparency measures in relevant policies and regulations.

"Educational fairness is the cornerstone of social fairness as well as the duty and meaning of education. This bottom line must be stuck to." said Yin.

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