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Print Edition> Forum
UPDATED: September 29, 2010 NO. 40 OCTOBER 7, 2010
Is It Fair to Expel 'Overdue' Students?

On August 30, the Graduate School of Huazhong University of Science and Technology announced it would expel students who were taking too long to complete advanced degrees. The relevant regulations say completing a master's degree shouldn't take longer than four years and a doctor's degree eight.

In all, there are 307 students who will be expelled because of the new policy, about 1.7 percent of the total number of postgraduate students at the university.

In an online survey in which more than 8,300 netizens took part on whether Huazhong University should expel the students, nearly 70 percent of them supported expulsion, giving as the reason: "Universities should eliminate unqualified students or they won't be able to improve teaching quality."

But, others say they think universities cannot avoid flaws in the education system and are attempting to shift the blame on to students.

Necessary management

Bi Xiaozhe (Chutian Metropolis Daily): Expelling overdue postgraduate students shows the clear-mindedness of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in educating students. This comes from an objective perception of students' quality nowadays. From 2000-06, the number of people who were awarded doctoral degrees each year soared in China. In 2008, the number surpassed that of the United States, which means China is a country with a large number of doctors. But behind this number is deteriorating academic excellence along with the pursuit of greater quantity.

Huazhong University of Science and Technology has acknowledged a major problem in China's postgraduate education and tried to solve it through eliminating nonperforming students. The action itself is an exemplary example for other universities.

Li Xiaoliang (Western China Metropolis Daily): Expelling students who are taking too much time is just like defragmentation of a computer. Trash information, which hasn't been used for a long time and occupies too much memory, needs clearing to ensure the computer's efficiency and safety. What's more, the educational resources of universities are limited, with one student occupying one place. If one has a quota but can't fulfill it, it's certainly a waste of educational resources.

Inescapable responsibility

Zhu Xiaozhu (hlj.rednet.cn): There is a contractual relationship between students and universities. Students pay money to universities and universities have to educate students. In order to fulfill this kind of contract, universities have to make efforts in two areas: ascertaining if these students are eligible for their courses, and, after taking tuition fees, doing their best to educate students. If students are not adequately educated, they are entitled to claim compensation from their universities.

There are many reasons for postgraduates not being able to graduate within the set time: for example, insufficient teaching resources and a flawed educational system.

Universities should give students more opportunities rather than expelling those who have already paid money and wasted their time after hasty expansion of recruitment.

He Yong (www.cnhubei.com): Course fees for students who are thrown out have already been handed in to the university. From this viewpoint, booting out overdue postgraduate students will neither cause economic losses to a university nor damage its reputation because of circumstances of lax higher education. It kills two birds with one stone.

But, tardy postgraduate students do little harm to society. They are surely blamable for not being able to graduate within a set time. But graduating quickly is not any better for all that and, on the contrary, may be even worse. It's commonly known in countries with advanced higher education, many doctors finish their degrees in seven or eight years not because of poor ability but high requirements from the universities. On the contrary, requirements for doctors are very low in China, with doctors usually graduating in only two or three years. Eliminating overdue students is necessary but what's more necessary is raising requirements for their graduation.

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