A Chinese university was forced to changed its mind about making students work as film extras for free after a storm of online protests, mainland media reports. Officials had initially said that all men studying in four of Jinggangshan University’s departments had to carry out duties as extras on the film as part of “labour week”, the Thepaper.cn reported on Wednesday. If they refused to take part in the film about the Long March – a military retreat undertaken by the Communist Party’s Red Army in the mid-1930s during the civil war against the Kuomintang army – they would be marked down as being absent from class, the university said. However, numerous protests by many students, who complained about after having to work for free on the film set for up to 12 hours each day, led to the university in the city of Jian, in Jiangxi province, backtracking. On Wednesday it said that students refusing to take part would no longer be marked as having missing lectures. Students also complained in online post that they were forced to wear smelly old costumes, which were about 10 years old. The director of the film had banned the students from cleaning their costumes, which had led to some students developing skin problems, the post said. In response, the university said that students could either apply for sick leave if they developed skin allergies, or simply refuse to take part. One staff member was quoted as saying that each of the university’s departments had arranged for students to work as unpaid extra for one week, The departments had asked students to work only every other day to ensure they had enough rest.