The already ultra-stressful gaokao season looks like it will be even more so for many students and parents across China this year, thanks to new government policies which some parents believe will endanger what they care about most — the education prospects of their children.
On Saturday, thousands of Chinese parents protested in front of government buildings in the capital of Hubei, Wuhan, as well as a number of cities across Jiangsu province, speaking out against new university admissions quotas that they believe will make it harder for their kids to go to college near to the nest.
In the past, China’s controversial college admissions system has faced criticism for its reliance on the all-important gaokao, as well as the just-as-important hukou. Most Chinese universities give preference to students with local household registrations. This has resulted in a serious imbalance in China’s higher education system, as the best colleges are in Beijing and Shanghai, made up of mostly local students.
To help fix this problem, China’s Ministry of Education introduced quotas this year for admitting non-local students to public universities in more-developed provinces in eastern China, like Jiangsu and Hubei. According to SCMP, 14 of these provinces, as well as Beijing and Shanghai, must admit 210,000 students from poorer western provinces, like Guangxi, Guizhou and Gansu. Jiangsu and Hubei alone will be responsible for offering nearly 80,000 seats to outside students.
Parents protesting in Jiangsu and Hubei say that this change in policy is unfair to their kids. They argue that they had to abide by the one child policy, while minority parents from regions like Ningxia were able to have more than one kid, and now those kids are getting help on the gaokao as well.
Additionally, Jiangsu parents say that thanks to new admissions quotas, their kids have less than a 10% chance of getting into top local universities, while a student from Beijing has a 25% chance, according to The Paper.
In response, Jiangsu education officials assured parents that because the overall number of test-takers is declining each year, the acceptance rate for local students will in fact rise. So they really have nothing to be worried about. The admission rate for local students in Jiangsu province as 88.8% last year, in Hubei it was 87%.
The difficult issue has become one of the hottest topics on Weibo recently, and videos of the protests have gone viral on Chinese social media. In one video, protesters in Nanjing are seen demonstrating outside government buildings, shouting “Governor, come out!”
Other videos show riot police clashing violently with protesting moms and dads:
Another video that has gone viral shows one angry mother arguing that while the children of officials and the children of the super-rich get to go overseas for their education, where does that leave the kids of everyone else:
[Images via Tencent / Weibo // Videos via Weibo / Miaopai / YouTube]