Clampdown on alleged student abuse of ethnic minority scheme

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2009, 12:00am

Three central government agencies are clamping down on prospective students allegedly trying to manipulate or lie about their ethnic origins to gain preferential treatment for admission to tertiary institutions.

The State Ethnic Affairs Commission and ministries of education and public security issued a joint notice on Monday that police forces, which oversee household registration on the mainland, would tighten screening of applications to change ethnic identity.

As part of a government drive to cultivate a national identity among the country's diverse ethnic communities, students from less populous ethnic groups are allowed to enter desirable colleges or universities despite lower entrance exam scores.

For instance, a candidate from an ethnic Mongolian community in Heilongjiang province can receive up to a 20-point boost on the entrance exam score.

A few points can make a substantial difference in an applicant's chance of entering a desirable institution, or any at all.

However, a growing number of supposedly Han students - the ethnic majority - have been applying to change their ethnic backgrounds.

Similar schemes devised by authorities, offering preferential treatment for retired athletes or students entering certain fields of study on their applications, are also susceptible to abuse because of the lack of transparency.

The joint notice said abuses of a scheme meant to benefit students from ethnic minority groups had encroached on the legitimate rights of students from such groups.

The directive reaffirmed that people could claim an ethnic affiliation only in line with that of either parent, and that students had to state ethnicity truthfully when filing for exams.