SHENZHEN, Guangdong – While many of China’s universities are advertising to attract attention from college candidates ahead of the annual college entrance examination in June, one university is noticeably absent from a list of colleges approved to recruit students.
The list, published by the Ministry of Education, covers 820 colleges and universities across China. It excludes Shenzhen’s South University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC), meaning the school is unable to recruit students through the national college entrance examination.
“In fact, we don’t want to be on the list,” said a staff member with SUSTC, who wished to remain anonymous.
“To be on that list means the Ministry of Education guarantees that each student who graduates from those colleges and universities is qualified. If that is the case, why do so many Chinese parents want to send their children overseas?”
He said the reason is that parents lack faith in the nation’s education system and believe the quality of universities is no longer as good as it used to be.
“People are fully aware of what’s wrong with the current education system and of issues such as graduate unemployment and academic corruption.”
SUSTC is widely regarded as a trailblazer for educational reform.
“This university is doing pioneering work. Because it’s brand-new, it has limitless possibilities,” Chen Qianlin told local media. Chen sent his 16-year-old daughter to SUSTC in March.
Chen is president of a Wenzhou elementary school and he said his ideal teaching method is to teach students in accordance with their aptitude.
Zhu Qingshi, president of SUSTC, announced last December that the university would recruit students even without approval from the Ministry of Education. However, only 45 students, instead of the planned 50, showed up for the university’s first academic semester.
“I fully understand that the students were facing pressure from both society and their parents,” Zhu said, referring to the five candidates who dropped out the school’s enrollment.
Xiong Bingqi, an education expert with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said if the public’s attention is merely focused on whether the Ministry of Education accepts SUSTC on its list rather than the university’s goals and independent admission and certification, then the SUSTC is of little concern.
When asked whether he worried about his future certificate not being identified by the Ministry of Education, Cheng Qijia, one of the first batch of students enrolled in SUSTC simply said: “Harvard University’s graduation certificate is not authorized by the Ministry of Education, does our society acknowledge it?”
But Xiong also questioned whether SUSTC would be able to be independent from the government when it was advertising for a vice-principal with an official rank equivalent to a minister.
“I was disappointed to see this (the recruitment),” said Xiong.
Cheng Yingqi contributed to this story.