China's top academic institution Peking University has confirmed that National School of Development Professor Xue Zhaofeng has resigned for personal planning concerns.
The resignation has drawn widespread attention online in the past few days as Xue is a star teacher, best known for his economics class, at one of China's largest online paid knowledge-sharing platforms, iGet.
Since the class was launched, Professor Xue has attracted the largest audience - more than 250,000 - ever on the platform. Every subscriber has to pay 199 yuan (about 31.6 U.S. dollars) a year and the class has generated close to 50 million yuan (about eight million US dollars) for iGet, and Xue is also expected to earn millions from it, according to reports.
Xue's colossal popularity has led to questions about his academic capabilities. On China's leading Twitter-like social media platform Weibo, user @lianpendadehuoqiujun said, "the public needs simple language and easy-to-understand knowledge. But Peking University, as the best academic institution in the country, should focus on studies of most advanced areas. Xue's problem is that he is not clear with concepts, including Fisher Equation (an economic term estimates the relationship between nominal and real interest rates under inflation)."
@causality1990 commented, "Of course scholars can make money through knowledge, but they are not supposed to mislead the public. Xue is not qualified to be a professor."
Some others applauded the Professor for rational explanations. The user @bingjiang2333 said, "Isn't it nice that public with various levels of understanding could learn economics through easy languages? Do jargons only define excellent academic research?"
In November 2016, central authorities unveiled guidelines, allowing scholars and teachers to take part-time jobs so they could earn extra after gaining consent from institutions and fulfilling their responsibilities well, without harming or misappropriating lawful rights from their institutions.
Peking University has not responded to Professor Xue's moonlighting so far.
Paid knowledge-sharing platforms launched by China's tech apps have been booming in the country in recent years. In 2017, it was estimated that the sector worth 50 billion yuan and 292 million people are expected to use the service this year, according to Internet industry report.