What would you do if you paid a shitload of money to study at some college, thinking it would legit and all, only to be told that your diploma would not be recognised after all? We don’t know about you, but we would definitely riot. Well, that’s what some civilian students at the Hefei PLA Artillery Academy did a few days back. And it turned out to be a very bloody incident. Iron doors were torn down, police cars were overturned and windows were smashed.
More from Radio Free Asia:
HONG KONG—Thousands of military academy students in central China’s Anhui province are rioting after news spread that the government wouldn’t recognize diplomas awarded to the fee-paying students, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.
“It was total chaos. Many people were beaten and were bleeding. The school buildings are a mess,” one student, surnamed Peng, told RFA’s Mandarin service.
“There is a 15-story building on campus. It’s been vacated. The iron doors in the corridors were smashed. In the morning armed police and police cars arrived to restore order. Their attempts were futile. Police cars were overturned,” Peng said.
“Even the automatic iron gates on campus were wrecked. The situation is really tense now. I hear that either tomorrow or the day after the Nanjing Military Region will send personnel to restore order.”
The rioting began Nov. 28 and worsened Nov. 29, witnesses said. Classes have been cancelled and windows smashed. It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone had been injured.
The Hefei PLA Artillery Academy comprises three types of students: Fully registered cadets with military status, fully registered students without military status studying for civil degrees, and self-funding “contract students,” according to the academy’s Web site.
“The students rioted because they are angry that their diplomas are fake,” Peng said, estimating that 6,000 to 7,000 self-funded students had joined the rioting. “The school sent military personnel to mediate. The students beat them and drove them away—even the military officers. Everyone is like an angry lion now.”
A female administrator at the Academy confirmed that rioting was going on. Asked if the rioters were students, she replied that all were students from “the sixth department… They are informal students without military status.”
A teacher at the academy, surnamed Ren, denied that rioting had occurred but added, “It could happen to any school. There are always some students who do not want to study. Right?”
“The majority of the students are good students. Those [who do not like to study] will be severely dealt with. What do the students know? Including the seniors. They have not even gotten their diplomas yet.”
“Only a small number of students with their own agenda were fanning the fire. I have told you too much already. If you are a reporter, I advise you not to touch things related to a military academy,” Ren said.
Some students have posted complaints online indicating that that they had started rioting because neither the Education Ministry nor the Military Commission would recognize their diplomas. “On no account enroll at the Artillery Academy. On no account enroll at the Academy’s sixth department,” said one posting.
Attempts by Shanghaiist to find pictures of the riot’s aftermath were futile. It looks like the major portals are all quickly censoring their own sites. Here’s the cutesie little message we found on a Mop.com that was supposed to give us some information:
Very sorry. For some reason, the post you are looking up has been deleted by the administrator. We have selected some more interesting posts and hope you will like them o(^_^)o If you have any questions, please click here and ask the administrator.
And some comments from around the China blogosphere. “Law and Order” says on the Time China Blog:
If the reporting from Radio Free Asia were accurate (it’s a big IF given the organization’s anti-China stance and habitual distortion of facts), the court system is well equipped dealing with this sort of thing in a fair and just way.
Whether a school’s diploma is recognized or not is at the discretion of the Department of Education. If there is dispute about the decision, the affected students should resolve the issue either through administrative agency or in the court. If anyone decides to resort to violence, he should be brought to justice. On the point of law and order, it is exactly the same in China as in the United States: anyone who breaks the law shall be brought to justice.
Catherine on the Time China Blog:
The Chronicle of Higher Education, when commenting on this incident, said, “China has experienced an increasingly competitive job market in recent years as a result of rapid growth in the number of students going to college. Major universities around the country have set up subsidiary programs at smaller colleges, offering students who fail in the competitive university exam a back-door way of obtaining a big-name degree. But the central government has begun to shut down such programs, leaving many students empty-handed upon graduation.”
The Chronicle also reported another incident in June 2004 when angry students and parents demonstrated in front of Shanghai’s Fudan University after the university withdrew support for a series of courses in a certificate program offered by one of its departments and expelled 700 to 800 students who had enrolled in them.
Bystander on the Time China Blog:
The problems in the Chinese higher education system are stemmed from two things: greed and vanity. Greed on the part of the university faculty and personnels and vanity on the part of students and parents in getting a diploma that they know is worthless. The vanity feeds into the greed perfectly—directly into the faculty’s wallets. The Chinese higher education system is expanding exponentially — well rivals the stock market of the country, and just as well out of sync with its fundamentals. The schools know that they don’t have the resources to educate the number of students they are accepting, but those “out-of-plan” students will bring them hard cash, who cares? The parents of those “out-of-plan” students know that their children will not receive proper education, but since they are paying, their feel entitled to a camouflage of the university name on the diploma. I have meet so many China-educated science PhDs who cannot even design a basic experiment properly, even their advisers cannot design an experiment properly; but they all become solid numbers in the country’s statistics. The solution is to return the education system back to not-for-profit status, tune down the expectations of both the government and the public, and divert 50% of the resources current allocated to “universities” to a more properly oriented technical training system, something similar to the community colleges in the U.S.. This way, students knows what they are getting into, and employers know who they are hiring, and the country fills the critical voids in the talent pools of basic trades and all sorts of bolt-n-nuts professions.
Hunxuer on The China Game:
So basically a PLA military academy has to also join the “pusuit for profit and fiscal survival” amidst cutting of educational funding and opens up a “xue yuan” on campus for kids that got less than stellar exam scores. Parents, thinking this HAS to be legit, leading to a “degree”, eagerly enroll the kids and shell out the bucks. They won’t be cheated…this is the PLA for Chrissakes!
Imagine West Point or Sandhurst doing similar shenanigans. Can’t? It’s because this goes AGAINST all common sense, logic and the primary goal of their MISSION!!!!
Kelly Frazier on The China Game:
If you send a kid to college in Europe of the West you know whether the school is accredited beforehand. School loans are tied to accredidation to make sure graduates will have an acceptable education and repay loans. Military academies are no different. This is not rocket science. I don’t want to assume the PLA are that incompetent, but it is difficult to believe that this many students failed to ask.
Any links or insight into accredidation standards in China would be appreciated – I find this story compelling.
Pictures of the Hefei PLA Artillery Academy from cn-sina.cn