Chinese students refuse to leave ‘best’ residence and allow foreigners to move in

College insists replacement building is adequate and explains the move, but students defend their old facilities as furious row with teacher is posted online

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 July, 2018, 4:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 July, 2018, 9:44pm

A college in eastern China has denied giving overseas students preferential treatment after its Chinese students staged a protest, claiming they had been forced to give up their rooms to foreigners and move to inferior accommodation.

The dispute erupted between education authorities and students of Wuxi Institute of Technology, a vocational school in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, over what the undergraduates said was an order to evict them from the best residence building to make way for overseas students, Thepaper.cn reported.

Teachers tried in vain to persuade them to move on Monday morning before returning on Tuesday afternoon to try again as tempers flared in a row witnessed by about 40 other students, Yangtse Evening Post reported.

A video posted on Weibo, China’s Twitter, on Tuesday shows a teacher urging students to move out of the building on Monday evening, and quarrelling with them as they refuse to leave.

“This is the school’s property,” yells the teacher in the video. “Who are you?”

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The student who posted the video refused to be named for fear of retaliation but told the South China Morning Post those who would be in their third year in the autumn were upset about moving to older buildings.

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“Students [in the replacement building] can only use public showers nearby, and these have restricted hours,” the student said. “We were forced into this for overseas students. This is so unfair.”

The video went viral online, with many viewers sympathising with the protesters.

The institute issued a statement on Weibo on Wednesday morning, saying that the room changes were to allow it to accommodate 320 new overseas students in buildings that were close together.

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The building that the students were told to move into lacked 24-hour access to showers with hot water, but the public baths could meet their needs and their new building would be renovated, it said.

“Dormitory adjustment is a regular practice,” the statement said. “Many meetings had been held and students had been informed before moving.”

The statement said the move into the older building had been completed, but the student who posted the video said students were threatened with not being able to graduate if they refused to comply.

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The Yangtse Evening Post report said the institute denied making the threat or punishing any students for the incident, but admitted it had spoken to and “educated” the two teachers seen in the video, who it said had shown “improper” attitude.

An unidentified official from the institute was quoted by Thepaper.cn as saying that the claim overseas students had been given the best building was a matter of opinion.

The institute has attracted a growing number of overseas students, according to the news portal, which said the first intake of 40 in 2014 was followed by 50 in 2015, 150 in 2017, and 320 this year.