The prominent University of South China in Hunan province has come under fire for making its students choose their majors at random in a lottery system. The university requires second year civil engineering students to study one of seven majors, but certain subjects are more popular than others so they can’t all have what they want.
Spokesperson for the institution, Lu Qinghua, defends the school’s system, saying that “We were forced to take these measures. If choosing a major is solely based on students’ wants, some majors will be overcrowded and others will have difficulty enrolling enough students. There are some other colleges that use this method.”
According to Lu, the students who performed best in the year-one exams are allowed to make the decision independently. Of the 585 students that enrolled in the second-year, only the top 190 get to choose.
Chinese netizens are criticizing the university’s lazy administration. A user going by the user name “Jingshuishenliu” commented: “The college lacks a sense of responsibility. Students should enjoy the right to choose the majors they prefer, and the college should not sacrifice students’ chances of personal development for the sake of maintaining a balance among majors.”
Si Hanhan, a writer for Guangming news, echoed this viewpoint and suggested that the university should conduct market research to identify the most relevant subjects and eliminate those outdated courses. Si called the university’s preferential treatment a form of “discrimination”, according to Xinhua.
An official from the university’s publicity department said that the method has been in place for years, and the school has asked students and instructors for feedback on a couple of occasions.
“After one year of study, students whose performance is in the top 10 percent can apply to change majors,“ said the official surnamed Su.
A student of the university who had just been through the system on September 8 told Beijing Times, “I think it is quite fair. Students are encouraged to study hard to gain the chance to freely choose majors. Even if we get a dissatisfying major after the lottery, we can exchange it with others.”
by Daniel Cunningham