Students run riot in dispute over diplomas

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 June, 2006, 12:00am

More than 3,000 students at a university campus in Henan province rioted at the weekend in a dispute over diplomas.

Early on Friday, students at the Shengda Economics, Trade and Management College smashed windows, office doors and glass storefronts, the brother of a first-year student said yesterday.

'Some people were definitely hurt in the confusion and chaos, but not seriously,' he said.

One student told Agence France-Presse yesterday that security guards had beaten two students who were photographing the wreckage on the campus.

At a graduation ceremony held last Thursday, students discovered their diplomas were issued in the name of the Shengda college, rather than the more prestigious Zhengzhou University, of which the college is a division.

'When my sister applied to the college last year they told us she would be receiving a Zhengzhou University degree. This was also written on the promotional material they gave us,' the student's brother said. 'A Shengda degree just doesn't compare. Zhengzhou is one of China's top 50 universities.'

Protests and riots continued sporadically throughout the weekend, with students also staging mass sit-ins at the campus, a student and teacher told AFP. Photos of the riots posted on the internet showed vandalised vehicles, small fires and debris strewn across campus courtyards.

Several hundred police officers continue to surround the campus.

The student's brother said most of the college's 10,000 students had refused to sit exams, which began yesterday. Instead, about 3,000 students voiced their demands to teachers and college administrators yesterday afternoon, with administrators promising a reply today.