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Uni’s rural policy checks family tree

(Global Times)

10:32, October 31, 2011

Renmin University of China (RUC) has announced a new admission policy in an attempt to enroll more rural or disadvantaged students.

However, only those students from families who have no background of higher educational attainment in the preceding three generations will be eligible.

Web users and educational experts are asking how feasible the policy actually is.

RUC published its 2012 admission plans on its website Friday, saying they would accept candidates recommended by the principals of urban key middle schools and outstanding rural students from county or lower level middle schools. RUC intends to select 50 county or lower level middle schools with a good reputation every year, and will select candidates from those schools only.

"Thank God they're not going to check my whole family tree. Too many such ancestor check-ups were conducted during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76)," a Sina Weibo user named Fangjun1222 said.

Chu Zhaohui, a researcher with the China National Institute for Educational Research, said that he is a firm supporter of the policy. Rural students may score much lower than their urban counterparts in the gaokao (college entrance examination) because of inadequate education resources, but they will be able to improve if they put effort in, he said.

"They are as intelligent as urban students, but how to define 'three generations' is a problem. Does it include uncles and other relatives, or just grandpa and father?" Chu said.

Chu believes students whose family has at least one college student will be an incentive to help students achieve more academically, rather than an obstacle.

Hu Ming, principal of Mingxin Migrant School in Changping district, said that if there were no detailed and effective supervision of the preferential policy, it would only lead to corruption and more educational inequality.

"In remote rural areas, it's easy to transfer a hukou (residence permit) from one family to another, as well as bribe a local headmaster," Hu said.

Hu's school has 4,000 migrant students who are registered outside Beijing, and he believes most students have no relatives who went to college.

Both Chu and Hu suspect the university may want to promote itself by introducing the new policy, as it is impractical.

Qiu Cheng, a senior high school student at Beijing Yuying School, believes the policy is unfair to urban students, worrying that less able students would affect the university.

"The students might be less competent," Qiu said.

RUC is the second university to have announced a controversial admissions policy this October, after Peking University announced students who do not show "filial piety" to their parents are deemed unqualified for a recommendation.

More universities are reportedly enrolling fewer students with a rural background in recent years. Rural student numbers at China Agricultural University dropped below 30 percent for the first time in the past nine years, the Beijing News reported in August.

RUC's admission and careers guidance office could not be reached Sunday.

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