Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, Hubei province, has set a good example for other institutions of higher learning. Late last month, the university expelled 307 postgraduate students and doctoral candidates who had failed to attend adequate number of lectures and complete their courses.
Most of those expelled were associated with government institutions and enterprises and were pursuing a degree to enhance their work performance. But that is not the whole truth. A master's or doctoral degree, especially the latter, could open the doors to promotions and plump postings for public servants. Plus, the handsome amounts many of the public servants and businesspeople pay to get their degrees are an important source of income for institutions of higher learning.
Universities are slowly becoming a combination of commercialism and utilitarianism. In a sense, commercialization of universities has made degrees more about money than education. It has ruined the traditional concept and value of education, and degenerated student-teacher relationship.
Unlike in other fields, commercialization of education runs contrary to the basic national policy, for education is first about knowledge and social responsibility, and then about earning money. But the increasing number of government officials and other "fat cats" getting admitted to institutions of higher learning shows that for some people, money is playing a major role in getting a degree. In fact, many colleges and universities offer all kinds of training programs just to make money.
Perhaps, the worst sufferers of commercialization of education are poor students who are denied seats in universities, because the public servants and businesspeople have the money power to grab them.
The "fat cats" have intensified another practice: plagiarism. Since many public servants and businesspeople are interested only in degrees, not knowledge, they resort to plagiarism to finish their dissertations or theses.
The genuine search for knowledge by anyone, be it a public servant or a businessperson, is a matter of appreciation. But the institutions of higher learning should treat poor students the same way that they treat public servants and businesspeople.
That should be the motto of universities across the country. For guidance, they should look up to the Huazhong University of Science and Technology.
(China Daily 09/24/2010 page4)