‘Au­ton­o­mous’ ad­mis­sions get closer re­view

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By SUN XIAOCHEN sunx­i­aochen@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

When Gao Lix­ing, a Bei­jing Sport Univer­sity alum­nus, dis­cov­ered that one of his for­mer class­mates could not even com­plete a 1,000-me­ter run, he was stunned.

“Long run­ning is ba­sic train­ing for stu­dent ath­letes like us. I be­lieve there was some­thing wrong in the ad­mis­sion process,” said the 28-year-old Gao, who ma­jored in ath­letic-train­ing the­ory and now works as a phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher in his na­tive Liaon­ing prov­ince.

Gao’s con­cern has been un­der­scored by a re­cent univer­sity ad­mis­sions scan­dal in­volv­ing Cai Rong­sheng, head of ad­mis­sions at the Ren­min Univer­sity of China, who is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for al­legedly sell­ing univer­sity places for lu­cra­tive prices in the school’s au­ton­o­mous ad­mis­sions process.

In the wake of the scan­dal, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion re­leased a reg­u­la­tion on Mon­day that urges lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties and uni­ver­si­ties to make schools’ self-run ad­mis­sions pro­grams pub­lic. In­for­ma­tion like ad­mis­sion rules, the re­sults of au­ton­o­mous ex­ams, the re­cruit­ing process and stu­dents’ cer­tifi­cates for ex­tra points are all re­quired to be avail­able to the pub­lic.

Sound su­per­vi­sion mech­a­nisms are the keys to guar­an­tee­ing trans­parency in col­lege ad­mis­sions since scan­dals in­volv­ing ad­mis­sions of­fi­cials draw na­tional at­ten­tion, ex­perts said.

“As long as there are no su­per­vi­sion and ac­count­abil­ity sys­tems, the black-box op­er­a­tion will con­tinue even though the ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­ity has been call­ing for trans­par­ent re­cruit­ment for years,” said Xiong Bingqi, vice-pres­i­dent of the 21st Cen­tury Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search In­sti­tute.

Xiong said the new reg­u­la­tion is the third time since 2004 that the min­istry has is­sued sim­i­lar re­quire­ments, but their ef­fect has been lim­ited due to poor im­ple­men­ta­tion and the lack of su­per­vi­sion.

Some high- pro­file uni­ver­si­ties are al­lowed to run an in­de­pen­dent ad­mis­sion sys­tem — sep­a­rate from the State-man­dated na­tional col­lege en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion, or gaokao — to re­cruit ta­lented stu­dents who didn’t do well in the exam but ex­cel in fields like art and sports.

But the re­stric­tion-free pro­ce­dure has been a breed­ing ground for cor­rup­tion, given a huge de­mand from wealthy and re­source­ful par­ents who want their chil­dren ad­mit­ted to renowned uni­ver­si­ties, Xiong said.

In 2010, Yu Xingchang, deputy di­rec­tor of the Jilin pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment, was sen­tenced to life in prison af­ter re­ceiv­ing 9.53 mil­lion yuan ($1.57 mil­lion) in bribes for help­ing stu­dents get un­de­served ad­mis­sions.

“With­out su­per­vi­sion, col­leges tend to pub­lish ir­rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion while the ad­mis­sion process is un­der the radar, and no­body gets pun­ished,” Xiong said.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­istry’s an­nounce­ment on Mon­day, col­leges are re­quired to dou­blecheck ap­pli­cants’ qual­i­fi­ca­tions for spe­cial ad­mis­sion, and lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties should play a watch­dog role to as­sess the in­for­ma­tion pub­lished while is­su­ing nec­es­sary penal­ties.

How­ever, the close ties be­tween lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tions and col­leges have been an ob­sta­cle, Xiong said.

“It’s like ask­ing some­one to iden­tify his own faults and send­ing a fa­ther to watch his own son. They are on the same side,” he said.

Chu Zhao­hui, a re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tu­tion of Ed­u­ca­tion Sci­ence, echoed Xiong’s sen­ti­ments, stress­ing the im­por­tance of es­tab­lish­ing an in­de­pen­dent en­roll­ment com­mit­tee and com­plaint­lodg­ing mech­a­nism.

“Too much ad­min­is­tra­tive power was given to schools and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties,” Chu said. “Hav­ing a third-party su­pe­rior is cru­cial to guar­an­tee­ing trans­parency while re­port­ing cor­rup­tion.”

As the quota for pref­er­en­tial ad­mis­sions has fallen in re­cent years, the price has risen cor­re­spond­ingly. It once cost just 20,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan for a col­lege seat, but the price has now risen to 1 mil­lion yuan, Xin­hua re­ported.

Yu Han, di­rec­tor of Ts­inghua Univer­sity’s ad­mis­sion depart­ment, said the univer­sity will or­ga­nize strict spe­cialty tests dur­ing the in­ter­view phase for stu­dents who pass writ­ten ex­ams in the in­de­pen­den­tad­mis­sion process.

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