Overhaul college irregularities

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Overhaul college irregularities

The standards the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology have so far applied to sort out colleges in poor health - either financially or academically - have turned out to be ineffective in accomplishing their original purpose.

A report on 22 improperly operated colleges, released yesterday by the Board of Audit and Inspection, explicitly shows what went wrong in the way the ministry selects bad schools across the country. As the ministry picks the schools based on ill-conceived and poorly monitored standards, schools were able to manipulate the data used for the screening process.

Some private universities distributed to their applicants a blank application form without the names of a department they should fill out. Others allowed all applicants with the same test scores to be admitted to their schools or registered family members of their faculty as students in order to meet the ministry’s requirement for the number of students on campus.

In addition, some colleges hired a number of unqualified teachers as full-time lecturers in order to match the required ratio for full-time teachers among the entire teaching staff. Not a few colleges also gave undue credits and diplomas to students who weren’t even present for one-quarter of their class hours in order to maintain the required number of enrolled students.

When colleges fail to meet the standards the ministry sets out, the schools automatically become ineligible for government subsidies - including loans for economically disadvantaged students. In extreme cases, the schools must shut down. As a result, colleges cannot but be keen to manipulate their statistics to meet the standards.

The Board of Audit and Inspection disclosed an internal letter from one college, which ordered all of its professors and other faculty members to distribute to applicants one application form per person so that it could secure as many freshmen as it would need to meet the standards.

The Education Ministry must not treat lightly those universities engaged in illegal activities. It must order them to shut down if it really wants to succeed in the task of restructuring colleges. It must also re-examine various types of indices that it has blindly respected so far, unless it again wants to offer government subsidies to schools that do not deserve them. Ministry representatives must first visit universities to see what is going on with their own eyes instead of fooling around with wrong numbers.

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