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China demands better info disclosure from universities

2014-07-30 08:58 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday released a circular calling for timely information disclosure following a series of scandals in colleges.

The circular designated 50 areas for 75 MOE-affiliated universities to give transparent and timely information to the public, such as recommended candidates for college admission, public bidding for construction work and university leaders' off-campus posts.

Information on faculty, teaching quality and student management will also come into the public domain.

"These 50 items are just the baseline for university information openness," said Xu Mei, spokesperson for the MOE. "We encourage universities to do more to give the public access to university affairs."

All the universities affiliated to the MOE are required to post the specified information on their websites within 20 days of any change. All MOE-affiliated colleges will open special columns for information disclosure on their web portals before the end of October.

The circular comes after a series of scandals that have made the public doubt the purity of the ivory towers, including bribe taking in admissions and corruption in construction projects.

Most of the items listed in the circular will provide space for power rent-seeking including admission cheating and financial corruption which arouse public criticism, said Chu Chaohui of the National Institute of Educational Sciences.

In one case, Cai Rongsheng, head of the admissions office at Beijing's Renmin University, accepted over 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars) in bribes from 2006 to 2013.

Colleges usually enroll students according to the nationwide college entrance examination, which is widely viewed as one of the fairest examinations. Some colleges have began to hold independent enrollments, but, with incomplete rules and limited regulations, the procedures have left plenty of space for corruption.

Building work is another area prone to corruption. Despite openness regulations on housing projects for faculty, budgets and final accounts, and in other areas, the results are unsatisfactory.

Xu Mei said the circular ordered colleges to publicize their budget and final accounts, as well as the usage of endowments, assets of university enterprises, basis for billing, and others.

One obstacle to information openness lies in the difficulty of supervising its implementation, said Yuan Guiren, minister of education, and the ministry is considering independent third party evaluation. The ministry will also conduct regular monitoring, the results of which will be available for public review.

Lv Yanbin, associate research fellow of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said third party evaluation has the advantage of being independent, just and professional.


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