Tears, Outrage, Protest, and Censorship over ‘Fake Major’ at Nanjing School
Over the past few days, the Nanjing Institute of Applied Technology (南京应用技术学校) has been at the center of a major controversy that has been dominating discussions on Chinese media and on social media.
Students who registered for the school’s Nursing Program, and who were about to graduate after three years of studying, were shocked to discover that their school was not qualified to offer their program and that there were issues with their registration. Chinese media describe the school’s program as a ‘fake Major’ (假专业).
Although the students completed required Nursing courses, including internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, they are now unable to get the proper credentials to do an internship or to be employed in the medical field, since they are not officially qualified.
News of the scandal first came out through students who said their teachers informed them on April 22nd that they would need to transfer to another vocational school in order to receive proper credentials.
According to Chinese news outlet The Observer, the situation applies to all students of the school who started their studies there in 2016 and after.
The Nanjing school was reportedly established in 2003 and received approval of the relevant departments to operate as a full-time vocational school. The school is privately-run but supervised by the Nanjing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau. There are currently over 6000 students enrolled in the school, according to its official website.
Students enrolled in the ‘fake’ Nursing program paid an annual tuition fee of 16000 yuan ($2377).
Over the past weekend, conflicts erupted at the school campus. Footage and photos flooding WeChat and Weibo show dozens of students clashing with security staff, and police cracking down on protests. At least one female student was allegedly beaten by a security guard.
Official media reported that some people who had previously been expelled from the school had used the situation at hand to return to the school to ‘stir up trouble.’
Multiple hashtag pages, posts, and videos relating to the incident were removed from social media site Weibo.
The Nanjing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau responded to the issue of the ‘fake school’ on Monday, April 29, stating that besides the Nanjing Institute of Applied Technology, there are two other schools involved in this matter: the Nanjing Oriental Arts & Science College (南京东方文理专修学院) and the Yingtian Vocational and Technical College (应天职业技术学院), which are both private colleges that have also been approved by the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education.
In an online statement, the Bureau explains that the Nanjing Institute of Applied Technology started working together with the Nanjing Oriental Arts & Science College (南京东方文理专修学院) in 2015 in running a school without reporting it to the relevant departments for approval.
The Bureau further states that it is “actively searching for a solution” in this matter, and that “maintaining order” at the school is one of its priorities.
“This school is such sh*t, I really feel so grieved for these students,” one among thousands of comments on Weibo said.
Although many threads focused on this issue are currently being censored on Chinese social media, Phoenix News is one of the media outlets that is still reporting on the issue, receiving much support from online commenters.
For now, the students and their parents are still left empty-handed.
“You damaged people’s rights and broke the rules,” angry commenters write on Weibo. “We can’t let students be harmed this way. Now it’s them, next time it’s your own kid. We cannot remain silent.”
By Manya Koetse
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