University in China apologises after students forced to do internships at Foxconn
One student alleges she was told she wouldn’t be able to graduate if she didn’t do summer placement at the electronics company, according to news website
A university in northern China has issued a public apology after it was accused of forcing students to do internships at the electronics manufacturer Foxconn.
One second-year student at Shenyang Urban Construction University said she was told she might not be able to graduate if she did not complete a three-month placement at a Foxconn plant in Yantai in Shandong province, according to K618.cn, a news website run by the Communist Youth League.
Chinese universities were told last year by the Ministry of Education to provide choices of internships that were relevant to students’ majors, but they could choose where they did their placements.
Shenyang Urban Construction University issued a public apology early on Friday morning and said students were now free to have their summer holidays rather than work at Foxconn.
“We apologise for the problems and negative social impact caused by this activity. We want to apologise sincerely to the students, parents and the public,” the statement said.
The university will also cover students’ transportation costs and allowances, the statement added.
Liaoning province’s education department is investigating the internships and has ordered all universities under its control not to arrange placements during the summer holidays, according to a statement on the department’s website.
One student working at Foxconn complained that interns were crammed into small rooms during training, according to the news website report.
“There were two rooms – with 300 of us in each – that were no bigger than 150 square metres,” she was quoted as saying by the news website. “That was an improvement from the first couple of days when there were 700 of us in one room.”
The 700 students, who were mainly from the university’s information and machinery schools, were expected to work at the Foxconn plant from July 15 to October 15, she was quoted as saying.
The student also complained about inadequate meals, the report said. “We weren’t given enough food and when we tried to ask the canteen for more, we were told off by Foxconn staff,” she said.
In a statement, Foxconn said: “All interns are informed of their employee benefits and rights at the start of their internship. These include the right to choose to participate in the internship and the right to leave the programme at any time.”
It added that the company fully complied with laws and regulations regarding internships. “We take all matters related to the internship programme very seriously and are carrying out a full investigation on the isolated issue at our Yantai campus to ensure that our policies are strictly observed,” the statement said.
A third-year student at the same university also complained that they were forced to do internships at companies where the pay was low or the work wasn’t relevant to their majors, according to the report.
“We have to do internships at a company of the university’s choosing. We were paid 300 yuan [US$44] to 500 yuan a month. The most was 1,500 yuan a month, but some interns weren’t paid at all,” the student said.
She added that her internship, not at Foxconn, mostly involved cold-calling plus handing out fliers and that she had to cover her accommodation costs during the four-month placement.
Taiwanese company Foxconn, which is the biggest assembler of electronic devices for Apple, employs more than a million workers in its factories across China.
It made global headlines when it installed nets around staff dormitories after a number of worker suicides in 2010.