Top universities face exams for corruption

Updated: 2013-12-23 07:34

By Tang Yue and He Na in Beijing (China Daily)

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Not a 'pure land'

Corruption in the universities, like that in government, results from highly centralized power, a lack of transparency and supervision, according to anti-corruption experts.

"People think that university is a 'pure land', but in my opinion, it's not pure at all. Universities are a microcosm of society, so it's impossible to avoid the problems prevalent in society in general and corruption is part of that," said Yuan Guilin, a professor of education at Beijing Normal University.

In China, the presidents of public universities are appointed by the government. By the end of last year, 1,735 of 2,442 presidents were government appointees, those who weren't appointed by the authorities all work at private colleges.

Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education, argued that university presidents should be elected by their peers and the students. Ideally, they should have a good background in teaching and research, which would help create an environment conducive for academics to concentrate on research and study, he said.

"I know a university where four top leaders retired this year. An election was held and four professors took the most votes. However, to many people's surprise, the professors lost out. The four posts were given to administrative staff members directly appointed by the upper level of government. The case had very a bad effect on the morale of the teachers and students," he said.

In many private universities overseas, a board of directors constitutes the highest decision-making body and the president is hired and regulated by a sound supervision mechanism, Yuan noted.