Students riot over fees and qualifications

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2007, 12:00am

Hundreds of students rioted after a graduation ceremony at a private college in Fujian in protest at expensive fees and a lack of recognition of their qualifications, a local resident and a human rights group said yesterday.

Students burned and destroyed furniture in more than 100 rooms of a dormitory building at Yangen University, a private college in Majia township, Quanzhou, on June 30, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.

It said students, who had each paid 60,000 yuan in fees over the past four years, had found their certificates were not recognised by the authorities or employers. A student who claimed to have taken part in the riot and who posted more than 10 riot pictures in a chat room, said revelry after the graduation ceremony turned into a revolt. He said angry students even set off fireworks to celebrate, while they burned furniture and bedding in the dormitories.

'It was crazy, just like a riot. [The students] destroyed everything that could be destroyed and burned everything that could be burned,' the student wrote.

'And then hundreds of students threw stones to destroy a guard house.'

The postings were widely reported by official media websites, including those of Information Times, China Central Television and People's Daily.

University staff refused to comment.

'You reporters eat too much and have too much time,' one member of staff shouted when contacted by telephone in a school office. 'You media just know how to stir up trouble.'

A worker at a shoe factory confirmed the riot, but said it was just a normal incident in Quanzhou.

'We always hear of students having disputes with schools,' he said. 'It's a common problem in our country.'