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Chinese universities adopt online dissertation defense to ensure on-time graduation

(Xinhua)    09:51, March 27, 2020

CHANGSHA, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Du Xu, a postgraduate from Central South University of Forestry and Technology (CSUFT), turned on his laptop and prepared for his dissertation pre-defense online.

While at home in eastern China's Shandong Province, Du presented his dissertation to five professors for the first time through the remote video connection.

"Half a month ago, the university informed us to prepare an online pre-defense, find out the tutors' opinions on the first draft and then revise it," the 26-year-old said. Although he had experience with an opening thesis defense and other face-to-face forms, he was not familiar with the process of online defense, which made him feel nervous.

According to the CSUFT, all the postgraduate dissertations must be pre-defended before being submitted for examination to ensure the quality. The graduate school of the university adjusted the arrangement amid the epidemic. Online defense started on Feb. 10 to ensure that the graduate students could graduate on time.

"Since our defense is open and anyone can click the link to join, there were 55 students online when I spoke," Du said. The open online defense can help us check missing key points and learn from each other. Some students also recorded the defense process to follow up on the comments of the tutor to further modify their dissertation, according to Du.

The university said the pre-defense would be submitted via the Internet, and the degree management office has set up an online platform for it.

Feng Jiajin, a graduate of the Hunan Railway Professional Technology College (HRPTC), who works as an intern at the Nanchang Railway Bureau in eastern China's Jiangxi Province, also needs to demonstrate his graduation project through an online defense.

On March 18, Feng launched a video conference for his final project defense in the office via software on his mobile phone during his lunch break. More than 10 teachers from his college attended the meeting.

In front of the camera, Feng talked about his graduation project "Ultrasonic Ranging and Reversing System" and displayed the slides on the screen with explanations.

When displaying his final product, he showed the results of the graduation project in different situations.

"Vocational schools focus on students' practical ability. Before the formal defense, the instructor first reviewed the students' graduation projects and the statements. Only when the work is qualified are the students are allowed to participate in the defense and display," said Xiong Yi with HRPTC.

According to the college, members of the dissertation defense committee ask questions about the relevant theoretical knowledge and the design methods, which the students should answer one by one. Finally, the members of the defense committee discuss the defense process and results. The results will be announced after a secret ballot. The entire process of the dissertation defense will be recorded, screenshot and saved as the defense record.

"The outbreak of coronavirus won't affect the students' graduation and seeking employment. Before the start of the new semester, the university will use online defense to ensure their graduation on time," said Zhang Ying, vice president of HRPTC, adding that in March, the school will have more than 600 graduates participate in online defense.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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