A university in the Chinese province of Hunan is trying to reassure students of the validity of their degrees amid a government exercise to merge colleges, while warning them not to “create trouble.”
Xiangtan University moved to preempt any unrest following student protests in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces against the forced integration of tertiary and vocational institutions and changes in school systems. Police used force to suppress the protests, which had erupted ahead of the Communist Party’s celebration of its 100th anniversary on July 1.
On Tuesday, the university and its Xingxiang College said in a statement that students’ degrees would still be issued by their current schools and would still be valid even after the school ceased to exist. It also told students not to make trouble.
Some students queried whether the statement was official or was just a ruse. They asked the university to issue an official guarantee saying the degrees and the schools’ status would remain unchanged, and that it would not jeopardize their opportunities for pursuing a master’s degree or civil service employment.
According to the statement, the private schools promised under the direction of the education bureau that five things would remain unchanged — the school’s status, degree, institution type, address and staff. Students in ongoing programmes would obtain degrees from the current university or college.
In April, Hunan’s provincial education department announced that Xiangtan University was to be combined with Hunan Industrial Polytechnic to form a new vocational and technical university.
Students at these schools have expressed concerns about whether the statements are official and endorsed by the government, as they carry the school chops but not document numbers from the authorities. The students worry that the statements will be rendered useless once the school ceases to exist, and doubt whether the school can be held legally accountable.
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