Business of degree certificates

Updated: 2014-09-16 07:45

(China Daily)

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The sale of business management degrees by universities and the purchase of them by officials have long been an open secret. Such programs have been a source of revenue for universities and a way for officials to obtain unearned academic credentials.

It is little wonder that the majority of government or Party officials have master or even doctorate degrees, many of which have been obtained in such a manner.

But behind this game in which both sides were winners, was the fact the expensive tuition fees were usually paid for with public money.

The officials do not necessarily have to attend classes to earn their qualifications and neither do many of them write their dissertations on their own. They pay others to do it for them. They do not care about how much they learn.

The universities turn a blind eye to how these officials and the leaders of State-owned enterprises do in the courses, as what they care about is how much money they can make from the tuition fees.

EMBA training programs are expensive. The cost of tuition can be as high as 500,000 yuan ($81,400) for some prestigious universities. Officials, of course, avoid paying from their own pockets. Some have such charges reimbursed by their own working units and some have the tuition paid by entrepreneurs, who want to forge relations with the officials.

It might be regarded as a personal matter if officials spent their own money on gaining these qualifications. But it is corruption if they spend public money or have their expenses paid by someone who has a conflict of interest with them.

So it was definitely right to ban the practice.

The Organizational Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee prohibited leading officials from taking part in such high-cost classes in a document issued at the end of July.

The crackdown on the activities has resulted in fewer officials signing up for such programs this semester and universities will have a hard time in maintaining these expensive classes, which will quite probably result in the same embarrassing situation for many of them as confronted expensive restaurants when severe stipulations prohibited officials from enjoying banquets with public money.

What the universities should do is to consider launching good training programs to meet the needs of those who hope to improve themselves by attending such programs.

For hardworking officials, higher academic degrees are not that important and they can always study at their own expense should they want one.

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