Nine people in Harbin in the northern province of Heilongjiang have been arrested and accused of helping students cheat on their postgraduate entrance exams, state media have reported.
They are accused of giving students at the Harbin University of Science and Technology earpieces connected to radio devices so they could be told the answers during their exams last month to get into an MBA course, People's Daily reported.
The suspects have been charged with stealing state secrets as exam questions are protected under the mainland's security legislation, the report said.
Twenty-six students were caught wearing earpieces and wireless receivers.
"We were so shocked to hear that students cheated at our university," a former lecturer at the college said.
The university had a strict system for supervising exams, especially for national level tests, she said.
"Supervisors had to receive training to understand the examination rules. We swap with supervisors from other universities. Nobody would know which exam they would supervise until the last minute," she said.
A state television investigation aired last month accused an MBA recruitment centre at the university of teaming up with a training college in Beijing to help students cheat in their exams, without the knowledge of the college authorities.
More than 90 wireless devices were allegedly found and 1.5 million yuan (HK$ 1.9 million) raised in the fraud was discovered.
The training centre placed adverts guaranteeing students would pass their exams for about 40,000 yuan, the report said.
The Ministry of Education sent inspection teams to investigate after the report.
The ministry said people who cheated in the exams would have their results cancelled and they would be barred from taking any national level examinations for up to three years.
The ministry also suspended the university's qualification to host postgraduate entrance exams for one year and suspended its MBA recruitment programme for a year.
A postgraduate studying at the university, Ben Lin, said the alleged cheating was horrific.
"The fraud stains us, too. Some are worried about whether it may mean we will have fewer job opportunities in the future," Lin said.
Fierce competition in the job market meant most of his classmates went to graduate schools to get better qualifications and hopefully a high-paid job, he said.
"It's like getting a guaranteed meal ticket, but for people who don't care about studying and don't want to do the work and research, there's no surprise that some will cut corners," he said.