Private colleges drop entry criteria to fill places

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2001, 12:00am

Private colleges and universities in China have been forced to lower their minimum entry requirements after thousands of students failed to take up their offers of places.

Last week education authorities in Hubei province lowered entry requirements for more than 70 institutions after about 5,000 freshmen failed to turn up. One Xianning college reported 1,207 no-shows, according to Changjiang Daily.

Education authorities in Shanghai announced similar plans earlier this month, saying that 1,800 students due to start at five private institutes had cancelled their enrolments after deciding to repeat the national university and college entrance examination next year, said Liberty Daily.

Guangdong education institutes also amended their entry policies in a bid to fill empty seats in the event of students not arriving. Not only did they offer 30 per cent more places than were actually available, reported Nanfang Daily, but the placement process was also halted for three days earlier this month so that more than 11,000 students who were not accepted at their colleges or universities of choice had time to re-apply at others. Only 2,300 of these students made use of this opportunity.

Shen Hong, vice-dean of the School of Education at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, said that one of the main reasons for the problem of vacant places was that among the 1,300 or so private mainland institutions, only 37 could issue state-recognised graduation certificates.

'Qualification is one of the key criteria of employment. That is why many students with offers from these colleges choose either to repeat or start working instead of wasting time and money on unrecognised certificates,' Professor Shen said.

The lack of state recognition was also reflected in the fact that private students were often not eligible for benefits such as low-interest student loans, a Guangdong Education Department source said. He added that many institutes would have to adjust their entry requirement levels to fill places.

Professor Shen said that private institutions were the last to enrol students, and thus could only pick up those rejected by government-run universities and colleges. 'This has given private institutions the weakest students and, therefore, poor reputations. Government-run institutions still rule China's higher education.'

She warned that the situation might worsen as government-operated universities expanded, forcing private institutions to lower entry requirements even further.

She felt that favourable government policies needed to be introduced for private institutions, and that the wave of students repeating entrance exams was in fact an encouraging sign that standards at tertiary level would rise.