For sale: degrees in Guangdong
HALF the places at Guangdong universities are for sale at up to 10,000 yuan (HK$13,000) each, and the students who fill them will not need exam results as good as normal candidates.
Meanwhile, fees for government-subsidised students are to rise further, with some paying up to 1,000 yuan and most contributing an average of 600 yuan, sparking fears that poorer undergraduates will not be able to afford a college education.
Hundreds of Hongkong students attend Guangdong universities.
The new moves, to be introduced in the new academic year, are designed to ''relieve the economic burden'' of tertiary education on the Guangdong Government.
The moves have led to criticism that subsidised students will now have to compete much harder for a smaller number of places, while ''self-supporting'' students can buy a place with inferior marks from entrance exams.
In the past, only 20 to 30 per cent of university places in Guangdong were set aside for self-supporting students, many of whom are sponsored by companies. Under the new rules, these students will comprise 50 per cent and will pay annual course fees of up to 10,000 yuan a year.
A spokeswoman from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Higher Education student recruiting office told the Sunday Morning Post: ''The aim of the policy is to relieve the economic burden of the government and the major difference in the policy is in the marks.'' A professor from Jinan University said: ''Self-supporting students can enter universities with marks under 270 out of 500, while students in the other category must have marks much higher than 300 as competition is now so keen.'' Fees are decided by the universities themselves. They are not set according to cost but related to demand and the university's reputation. Consequently, fees for some courses, such as business and foreign trade, are as high as 10,000 yuan a year.
Student recruitment is co-ordinated by the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Higher Education, but each university has the power to handle individual cases and to decide what marks a self-supporting student can be admitted with.
The spokeswoman said self-supporting students who could afford the full fees were now to apply separately for university places and would be considered on ''a different marking curve''.
In the past all candidates took part in an open exam and were selected on results.
The Chinese State Education Commission (SEC) has expressed concern about the financial burden the rising college fees will place on some families, particularly those from rural areas, where annual income stands at around 900 yuan a year.