China Struggles to Build a Quality Control System in Education

Despite the MOE sampling PhD papers since 2010, a number of recent incidents have led to public outcry for tighter quality control in higher education. These incidents include a famous celebrity receiving a PhD from the Beijing Film Academy through a ghost writer, a Tsinghua PhD graduate winning a number of prizes, and fraudulent research being discovered in a number of international journals.

There seems to be little public confidence in the ability of universities to conduct their own quality controls, even though they have been increasing their sampling proportions yearly. In its 2019 budget, the MOE has allocated over USD 2 million to facilitate cross-checking of PhD and Master’s papers (which equates to a sampling rate of 10% and 5%, respectively).

Hundreds of current Master’s students have been persuaded to voluntarily withdraw their post-graduate study this year. China Southern Daily reported that 25% of Chinese students studying at Ivy League universities have dropped out and many are relying on ghost writers. Many Chinese students expect a “pass” throughout their study and are often shocked to learn that universities do “really fail” students. The MOE has vowed to revoke any qualifications whenever academic fraud is discovered.

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