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Crackdown targets ‘gaokao migrants’

Zou Shuo
Updated: Jun 4,2019 9:02 AM     China Daily

The Ministry of Education is telling schools nationwide to adopt strict enrollment rules after some recent practices were seen as tarnishing the country’s education system.

With less than a week until the annual national college entrance examination, or gaokao, education authorities should crack down on gaokao migrants, the ministry said.

Gaokao migrants — a reference to students who register to take the exam in a province other than their own, hoping to boost their chances of admission to a top university — is a widely recognized phenomenon in China. University enrollment is based on student rankings by provincial region, not nationally.

For example, a student may move to a more sparsely populated region where universities have a relatively larger student quota to fill. In the past, some students have faked their household registration documents to take the exam in such a region.

More than 10 million students have registered to take the exam this year from June 7 to 9. The standardized nationwide test is widely viewed as the key to social mobility and determinative of a student’s future prospects.

The education bureau in Guangdong province recently ordered an investigation into the credentials of all students who transferred to a high school there from other provinces.

The crackdown was prompted by an investigation conducted by Shenzhen education authorities into the Shenzhen Fuyuan School. It found that more than 1 in 10 of the top 100 students in a recent citywide mock exam had transferred from Hengshui Middle School in Hebei province to study at Fuyuan.

The Shenzhen education bureau stripped the credentials of 32 gaokao migrants in the city, as they can only take the exam in their home provinces.

Universities were urged by the ministry to strengthen the regulation of independent enrollment of students with special talents.

Independent enrollment was added as an admission alternative in 2003 to allow some key universities to enroll students they chose. Tests of academic competence and interviews are usually required. However, the rise of fraud cases in independent enrollments in recent years has tainted the practice’s reputation and caught the attention of authorities.

The ministry also required local authorities to ensure that exam-free access to primary and secondary schools is universally available for school-age children.

High schools should strictly follow admission procedures and policies, said the ministry, adding they are banned from vying for top students in violation of regulations.

Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, said these increasing malpractices have shown there are enough loopholes in the supervision system in student enrollments for fraudsters to exploit.

Apart from getting to the root of such frauds and plugging the loopholes, education authorities should also take measures to punish the students and those who helped them cheat in enrollment, he said.

The frauds reflect the imbalance of education resources between regions, and education authorities should continue to bridge the gap and provide more high-quality education to less-developed regions, he added.