Colleges in 'dirty tricks' accusations

08:52, July 04, 2011      

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Top Shanghai universities are accusing rivals of dirty tricks campaigns in efforts to secure the best students for their institutions.

On Friday, Fudan University issued a public statement implying competitor Shanghai Jiao Tong University had duped excellent out-of-town students into giving up applying to Fudan.

It has been suggested students received calls from people pretending to be Fudan officials, informing them their application was invalid and suggesting they apply to SJTU instead.

"It's fraudulent," Fudan said on its official microblog. "We reserve the right to sue the engineering college in southwest Shanghai."

This triggered a war of words between faculties and supporters of the two high-ranking universities.

Over the weekend SJTU issued a statement denying the allegations, which it said damaged its reputation.

SJTU also made its own accusations of underhand tactics. "We are very regretful that some other university teachers have been sullying SJTU's image in recruitment fairs in high schools," it said.

And these university wars extend beyond the city. Feng Wei, director of Fudan's admissions team in Hubei Province, has claimed in his microblog of "a dirty tricks campaign" being fought by Peking University and Tsinghua University to win the brightest students.

He claimed Tsinghua called Peking's admissions hotline repeatedly to block students' calls.

Feng also said Peking University's admissions faculty would disparage Fudan in a bid to dissuade students from applying there.

Moreover, Feng said the two Beijing universities worked with local government to try to persuade top-score students interested in Fudan to apply to them instead.

Yang Lei, a sophomore of Fudan from Hubei Province, supported Feng's claim. He said school officials and local government officials talked to him and his parents, trying to persuade him to revise his application to make Tsinghua or Peking his top choice. Yang said he was offered a bonus to do so.

Yang's very high score in the National College Entrance Exam qualified him for a place at these universities.

Under the Chinese university application system, students can only receive one offer of a place.

Applicants list universities by order of preference. If their exam score is high enough for their first choice, they will be offered a place there. If not, it will move to their second choice, and so on.

The number of top students has become an important benchmark to determine the ranking of domestic universities.

Moreover, school reputations and local government education achievements are closely related to the number of students attending top universities.

Increasing competition from overseas universities, plus the decrease in babies born in the 1990s, has led to fiercer competition for top students, education experts have said.

Despite domestic universities' cutthroat competition, Hong Kong University this year attracted 11 top students from various mainland provinces - almost twice the number of last year.

Meanwhile, more Chinese families are sending their children abroad to study in the United States and Australia.

Shanghai reported a record low number of National College Entrance Exam applicants this year. Less than 61,000 people sat the college entrance exam, down from 66,000 last year.

This compares with 120,000 test takers at the peak during the 1990s.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of 21st Century Education Research Institute, said the score line didn't reflect the quality of students and that universities should pay more attention to educational quality.

Source: Shanghai Daily
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