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71.3 percent college students treated unfairly during internships: survey | Updated: 2016-10-26 14:34

A survey shows that 71.3 percent of college students have been treated unfairly during internships, mostly as a result of long hours or heavy workloads.

The survey of 2,000 respondents by China Youth Daily found that 62.2 percent of interns received payment for their work, while 25.1 percent did not.

It also found that 51.8 percent of interns had to work long hours or shoulder excessive workloads. More than 45 percent complained that their internship descriptions were inconsistent with the actual work. Other problems included becoming a scapegoat (36.6 percent), delayed or dropped payments (34.9 percent) and verbal abuse (15.2 percent).

Having encountered unfair treatment, 49.8 percent tried to address the issue through direct communication with their employer or supervisor, followed by 43 percent who chose to quit and 42.8 percent who opted to suppress their frustrations.

To better protect the rights of student interns, 63 percent of respondents called for legal rules to clearly define accountability of both parties, and 62.7 percent suggested a need for a rights protection service.

More than 55 percent said the internship benefited them, while 21.2 percent said it was of little help, and 2.9 percent, no help.

A student in his junior year said he earned 60 yuan ($8) a day during his internship at an Internet company in Beijing, and that the work was too stressful for him.

Another student in Hangzhou of Zhejiang province said she wasn't paid because the employer, a start-up advertising firm, thought the internship alone was of great benefit to her.

Students listed their top perceived benefits from internships as social experience (74.2 percent) and work experience (70.2 percent), followed by the hope of a formal job offer (46.3 percent), a welcome addition to their resume (32.7 percent), networking opportunities (27.5 percent) and financial reward (23.5 percent).

Many respondents in the survey said they felt they were treated like cheap labor during their internships, and felt they couldn't defend their legal rights due to the pressure to find jobs after graduation.

Shanghai lawyer Wen Chenjing said China's law doesn't require an employer to enter into an internship contract with students, so students do not always enjoy the same rights as formal, full-time workers. Wen called for schools to provide more help for student interns.

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