New law protects academic integrity

2024-04-27 10:16:10China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese lawmakers on Friday voted to adopt a law on academic degrees, aiming to ensure their quality and standardize the process of conferment, while protecting the legitimate rights of degree applicants.

The law, which was passed at the ninth session of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People's Congress, the national legislature, will take effect on Jan 1, 2025.

Liang Ying, an official with the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, said the new law strengthens quality assurance by formulating provisions to supervise key parties and processes.

Special regulations are outlined for doctoral degrees, specifying the responsibilities of institutions, supervisors and students, Liang said.

"The law stipulates conditions under which degrees are not conferred or revoked, reinforcing comprehensive management of behaviors including academic misconduct," he said.

The conditions include academic misconduct such as ghostwriting and plagiarism, as well as misusing or impersonating someone else's identity and fraudulently obtaining qualifications for enrollment or graduation, the law said.

Guangzhou College of Applied Science and Technology issued a notice last month, announcing the revocation of the degree certificate of a student surnamed Chen due to plagiarism in his bachelor's thesis.

About half a year after the student was granted a bachelor's degree in June last year, external experts and the school's academic committee determined that his bachelor's thesis involved plagiarism and misappropriation of others' academic achievements, the notice said.

Moreover, the law said graduate students' advisers should fulfill their responsibilities in moral education, care for and guide students in conducting academic research and professional practice, while adhering to academic ethics and norms.

In recent years, academic misconduct such as academic corruption, plagiarism and improper authorship have been frequently reported, involving prominent academic figures and renowned research institutions.

A graduate adviser was disqualified by Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications after 15 graduate students reported her moral and behavioral problems earlier this month.

The students posted a 20-page document online reporting moral problems of their adviser Zheng Feng, who often cursed and assigned duties to students unrelated to academic research. The document presented evidence to prove that Zheng forced students to work overtime and ignored their physical and mental health.

In another case in January, 11 master's and doctoral students from Huazhong Agricultural University reported the misconduct of their adviser in a 125-page document they posted online. The document listed academic fraud, suppression of students and embezzlement of labor fees by the teacher, surnamed Huang.

According to the new law, doctoral degree-granting institutions should focus on cultivating high-level innovative talent, ramp up efforts in training and supporting students, and improve the quality of degree conferral.

Doctoral students should strive to study and practice, carefully prepare their theses or practical achievements, and ensure compliance with academic norms and innovation requirements, the law said.

In addition, Liang said the law clearly defines and elaborates the granting conditions based on the different requirements for bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.

It distinguishes the granting conditions of academic and professional degrees. While academic degrees emphasize research abilities, professional ones highlight practical skills and allow students to demonstrate their professional competence through practical achievements, according to the law.


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