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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
Curb academic corruption
    2016-06-20  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    THE death of Li Peng, a second-year postgraduate student at the Shanghai-based East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST), again drew public attention to a long-standing issue: pervasive corruption in institutions of higher learning.

    Li was killed, along with two other workers, in a blast at a workshop belonging to the Shanghai Joule Wax Industry.

    Why did Li show up at the factory, which makes and sells wax products, instead of studying in the classroom?

    It turned out that the factory is owned and run by Li’s master adviser, Zhang Jianyu, with his family. The factory’ s website shows that the person in charge is Zhang Jianxin, Zhang Jainyu’s brother. Li was coerced by his mentor to work at the factory where the accident killed him.

    It’s said that Zhang Jianyu also owns other factories and he frequently makes his students work at the factories for him.

    The relationship between Li and his teacher seemed more like that between an employee and his employer, and a greedy one, than that between a student and a teacher.

    Shortly before his death, Li told his sister that he was under tremendous pressure because if he failed to have a thesis published in a core journal, he would not be able to graduate, which meant the end of his career as a student from a poor rural family.

    In fact, Li had achieved research results and was ready to publish his findings, but his tutor did not permit him to do so. Why? Because Zhang allegedly feared that his students’ research results would leak his trade secrets, resulting in the loss of his factory’ s competitive advantage.

    Despite Li’s reluctance to spend much of his time working for his mentor, he dared not voice his dissatisfaction, as, in his own words, his fate was in his “teacher’s hands.”

    Zhang did act like a ruthless landlord. He made his students work in his factories but paid them chicken feed and he allegedly sold his students’ research work as his own to his clients without giving the students any compensation.

    Li’s sad story is only the tip of the iceberg — it’s an open secret in Chinese universities that there is institutional academic corruption: quite a few professors and instructors are busy making money for themselves using the school’s resources and exploiting their students’ low-paid labor.

    Others are forcing their students to bribe them if the students want to obtain degrees. Still others embezzle huge sums of State funds allocated for scientific research projects.

    In October 2014, the Ministry of Science and Technology unveiled corruption cases involving seven professors from five universities, who swindled the State out of a total of 25 million yuan (US$3.79 million) earmarked for scientific research. One of them, Li Ningyi, a professor with the China Agricultural University, alone, cheated up to 10 million yuan.

    The root of the evil lies in the current system in which funds for research projects are allocated. China has seen a sharp increase in investment in education and science in recent years, but much of it has not fallen into the right hands.

    With certain administrative departments holding the authority to approve projects and funds, such projects and funds become pieces of meat coveted by many, including many swindlers. They managed to secure the “fat meat” by hook or by crook.

    With money in hand, these “learned people” immediately turn into businesspeople and can do whatever they like; their schools have little control over them, since they are the “glory” of the school and they manipulate the projects and funding.

    As is the case with graft in other areas, the fundamental cause of graft is unchecked power. In no way will a professor with unrestricted authority be less greedy than a voracious official.

    So the bottom line is to lock the power in an institutional cage. Besides abiding by the laws, each school should work out practical conduct guidelines for its faculty members, drawing red lines that can never be crossed.

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

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