China / Society

Former student sues Peking University over plagiarism claim

By CAO YIN ( Updated: 2015-10-14 21:01

A former Peking University student whose postgraduate degree was revoked after the university accused her of plagiarism, faced her accusers in court in Beijing on Wednesday.

The woman, surnamed Yu, filed a lawsuit against the university claiming its decision not to grant her degree was without merit.

According to university officials, Yu, who graduated in July 2013, plagiarized her doctoral thesis. The 36-year-old denies the allegations.

The university contends the work was published in a magazine on July 23, 2013, and that more than 50 percent of it was plagiarized. The university made the decision to revoke her doctorate in January this year.

"As a rigorous academic institute we cannot bear plagiarism," said Lu Zhongxing, an official at the legal affairs office of the university.

Yu, who holds a doctoral degree from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, maintains her thesis was published 18 days after she graduated from the university and it was not included in four doctoral dissertations the university accepted in consideration of her degree.

Yu called the move to rescind her degree "unreasonable".

Her lawyer, Yi Xifeng, said the university had also released its decision to the media before informing Yu. It "caused great damage to her," Yi said.

Yi said the university claimed it made the decision due to the potential negative effects on its reputation, not on whether the thesis was plagiarized.

But Lu said university policy dictates that it withdraws a degree if evidence of plagiarism is uncovered.

"No matter whether a thesis is identified as a reference to grant a degree, the university can make such a decision if it finds plagiarism," Lu said.

Yu said the entire matter was upsetting her future plans. "I am passionate about academic studies," she said. "But now I have to squeeze time in to study and make living translating documents for some private companies".

The case was heard at Beijing Haidian District People's Court. A ruling will be handed down at a later date.

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