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Chinese Students' Cheating Techniques - Don't Try at Home 555

Posted by timothy
from the smart-people-bad-government dept.
corbettw writes "According to a wire report on Yahoo! news, competition for university admissions in China are so intense that people are coming up with new, and sometimes dangerous, ways to cheat. The methods include microscopic earphones and wireless devices. In some cases, students are required surgery to recover from their cheating attempts. If there are that many people that desperate to get into a university, the obvious question would be, why don't they just open more schools?"
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Chinese Students' Cheating Techniques - Don't Try at Home

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  • another good idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjwt (161428) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:49AM (#15568664)
    " If there are that many people that desperate to get into a university, the obvious question would be, why don't they just open more schools?"

    And why dont we just print more money to solve poverty?
    • by nelsonal (549144) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:50AM (#15568688) Journal
      With schools you can open as many as you want but without professors it's just going to be babysitting for college students.
      • Since schools also produce professors, I don't see the problem.
        • by Caffeinated Geek (948530) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:36AM (#15569106) Homepage
          Just because you train someone and slap the title professor on them doesn't mean they can teach. I think everyone has had at least one teacher that they could not guess how they managed to keep a job. If they rush the production of teachers just to open schools, the problem becomes worse.
          • by nasor (690345) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:38PM (#15570684)
            In U.S. universities there is basically zero effort put into preparing people to teach college classes. One day a new grad student shows up to start their graduate school career and a week later they're standing in front of 40 undergrads trying to explain the difference between a joule and a watt. It's about the same with the actual professors; they generally just look at what sorts of research you've done and what school you got your PhD from, and as long as you can speak reasonably fluent english they don't worry about your teaching ability. It's certainly not a perfect system, but it seems to work well enough. There's no obvious reason why China's current universities couldn't produce more than enough professors to double or tipple their number of universities in a few years.
            • by Photar (5491) <[photar] [at] [photar.net]> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @01:15PM (#15570967) Homepage
              I don't know about the uni you went to but at mine they waved the "reasonably fluent english" requirement.
              • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @01:30PM (#15571091)
                We had a quantum physics lecturer who didn't seem to be able to annunciate m and n clearly. He also scrawled in some kind of barstardised cursive, so you couldn't really tell the difference there either. Kinda makes life hard when the whole course uses tensor arithmatic with i,j,m,n as the indicies!

                We complained. He got upset and scrawled a hugh n next to a huge m on the blackboard "See emma and enna!". Thing is, they were a foot and half high, but you still couldn't tell them apart.
            • by entropy123 (660150) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @04:27PM (#15572442)
              I just finished my PhD and find the whole notion of 'teaching' to be absurd. Before my PhD I thought a great deal of the notion...but after being in the system for awhile I see being a student in a whole new light. Students learn what they want to learn from who they want to learn it. In other words, good students are able to overcome bad teaching any day of the week. Trouble occurs when the teachers either do not know the students or have no contacts for advancing the good students to where they want to go. As far as 'learning', the important thing is that the process be sufficiently hard for the students to have achieved a minium competence level in the subject. I'd say the most important thing about a college or university is the social status and initial job contacts it entails; knowledge rarely matters in a position but your friends do. I say open up as many universities as the market will bear.
        • by Pirogoeth (662083) * <mailbox@nosPam.ikrug.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:40AM (#15569149) Homepage Journal
          It's kind of like overexpansion in baseball. There's too many teams right now and there are over a hundred players on major league rosters who would have been only good enough for the minors before.

          You could suddenly fund a hundred new schools, but the staff you'd get for them would have to come from a pool that was never good enough to teach at the current schools, lowering the quality of education.

          I'm sure that over time, quality professors could be developed, but "build more schools!" won't work as well.
    • by virg_mattes (230616) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:56AM (#15568740)
      Printing money (what you really mean is inventing monetary value, since physically printing money doesn't do anything to the economy) requires that you devalue the monetary value you currently have, since the money supply represents a "set amount" of value, and forcing it around to more people cuts into the value of what each unit holds. The same is not true of univeristies. That is, we're very far from the situation where opening another univeristy will so crowd the market for higher education that the value of an education will decline due to the presence of more of them. Therefore, your analogy is false, because it's based on a bad assumption about marginal value. They should consider opening more schools so more of their people can get a higher education without resorting to cheating.

      Virg
      • by sjwt (161428)
        and where do they find the stafff for trippling there university system overnight? they either overcrowed the calsses, or they higher underqulified staff, which devalues the education that the studentes recive.
      • now if only we could print senses of humor in the same way the GP joked about printing money. . .
      • by t3ch lawy3r (983780) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:32AM (#15569062)
        Actually, there are diminishing marginal returns on the value of college degrees in China since there is a high-end job shortage. It is already the case that many students can't garner jobs comensurate with their degrees. Adding more students with degrees will only lower their expected value. Given that in the short-run, the demand for high-end labor is essentially fixed, there is a fixed amount of "value" so to speak for college degrees. Adding degrees, like printing more paper money, only lowers the expected value of a degree. China's problem is not a lack of higher education, it's a lack of high-end industry demand for advanced degrees. Hence the printing money analogy is pretty good.
        • by smokeslikeapoet (598750) <[wfpearson] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @10:41AM (#15569702) Homepage Journal
          You have it completely wrong. People say that we will always need ditch diggers and toilet cleaners. With technology we've invented backhoes and ditch witches, toilet cleaning additives and tank drop-ins that keep toilets clean much longer.

          The economic issue in play is the Chinese Government that is rationing education for their own benefit. Privatizing and deregulating the educational process will introduce economic competition that will spur growth in the education industry and increase the supply.

          A private system would be detrimental to the totalitarian state that is the Peoples Republic of China. Keeping people dumb keeps them under your thumb. America's elementary and secondary educational system is run in much the same way. Privatization of education is the only real solution.
          • by zCyl (14362) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:18PM (#15571496)
            Keeping people dumb keeps them under your thumb. America's elementary and secondary educational system is run in much the same way. Privatization of education is the only real solution.

            Yeah, private education will really help the oppressed in America to be able to climb out of their poverty and despair, with only a minimal expense of paying out several times their annual salary in tuition each year.
      • by Tiro (19535) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:41AM (#15569155) Journal
        There is DEFINITELY such a thing as academic credential inflation. There was no such thing as an MBA fifty years ago, yet people managed to run very large companies.
      • by xenocide2 (231786) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @10:05AM (#15569350) Homepage
        There's probably something to di with the Chinese administration's longstanding conflict with acadameia. The Tiananmen Square incident, as much as they've done to conceal it, still echoes in the minds of those old enough to have the skills and knowledge nessecary to become a professor. An old neighbor of mine was a professor from China (Mathematics, I think); he came over about five years after Tiananmen, which is probably close to how long it takes to officially immigrate to the States once the paperwork has been started.
      • Unlike the USA, most of the world doesn't see colleges as just some business, and the more you can serve, the merrier.

        Especially in the Soviet block -- which I assume to be the model that China copied -- education was free at all levels (and if you were really good, they actually paid you to study there), _but_ you had to prove that you have the brains and the will to learn. I.e., you couldn't just have daddy save up a few tens of grand and buy you a place at a college. You had to go through exams and prove
        • by blueZ3 (744446) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @11:28AM (#15570145) Homepage
          was there ever some "guarantee" that people in schools in the USSR were bright. Take off those rose colored glasses (once you do, you can see the 50 million people "Uncle Joe" killed) and you'll realize that children of high government officials, party members, and celebrities were regularly given spots a top-notch Soviet schools. Money might not have played as big a role as it does in the US, but a parent's political connection is no better arbiter of scholastic success than their financial success.

          Put your little red book down and come back to reality.
          • Put your little red book down and come back to reality.

            What's your point? George W. Bush jumped the queue to get into Yale. A completely private system is no better than a completely socialist system in this respect. The only difference is the currency used as a pay-off. In the USSR it was influence and power. In the USA it's money and power.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Exactly, because in China, I'm sure the schools are all state run (they are communist). They open as many as they can. They also maintain high standards so that people graduating with be worth something. If you give everyone a degree, a degree is no longer worth anything. On a side note, they may just be better off studying. Most of the time when I was in university, I saw many people trying to cheat, and thinking up these elaborate schemes, or spending hours typing notes into their programmable calcul
    • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:27AM (#15569022)

      " If there are that many people that desperate to get into a university, the obvious question would be, why don't they just open more schools?"

      Because you need someone to dig the ditches.

      • A more appropriate Heinline quote (paraphrased from memory):
        "The society that values the artist over the plumber merely because art is more noble, has neither good art nor good plumbing."
        • Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338)

          A more appropriate Heinline quote (paraphrased from memory):
          "The society that values the artist over the plumber merely because art is more noble, has neither good art nor good plumbing."

          Except in this case they merely make sure that someone flashing their college engineering diploma at a job interview, has actually earned that diploma, and not just had someone else write their exams for them. (Even via a micro-radio in the ear.)

          And no, it's not elitism against the plumbers or anything else. If a plumber ha

    • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:39AM (#15569138)
      If you print more dollars, all dollars become worthless. Education increases in value as more people have it. There may be a threshold where building another school would only appeal to those whose commitments to education are so low that they wouldn't receive any benefit, but clearly that's not the case in China if people are hurting themselves just to get admission.

      Some may just be cheating for a free ride, but I clearly remember the SATs here. The ones I remember trying to come up with the most exotic cheating methods were the ones religiously doing the "1600 SAT questions" guides and were the people that would already have scored better than 90% of their peers. The difference between a 1600 and a 1500, in their minds, was going to mean the difference between MIT and a serving fries at Micky D's.
  • by Silas Palmer-Cannon (973394) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:50AM (#15568681)
    We get hundreds of Chinese international students a year here in Australia... we would welcome many more! Its gotta be easier than surgery!
  • students are required surgery to recover from their cheating attempts.

    I suppose we could laugh at the grammar, if not the idea.

  • What's the point of opening more schools if people have to cheat to get accepted? That's the wrong answer; the reason there's a test isn't to find the best people, it's to find the qualified people. Some people just don't deserve better schooling.
    • Re:More schools? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jonin (471268) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:20AM (#15568952)
      "What's the point of opening more schools if people have to cheat to get accepted? That's the wrong answer; the reason there's a test isn't to find the best people, it's to find the qualified people. Some people just don't deserve better schooling."

      Because if there are so few schools that the only way to get accepted is to have a passing score of 95% or better, it is no longer about qualified or not.

      Although I don't agree with their cheating to get accepted, I do think opening more schools would decrease the problem and maybe even make a little money in the process.

      It is not like other countries (especially the U.S.) where if you have a pulse you can get accepted because there are so many schools.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:51AM (#15568703) Homepage
    If it's law enforcement or electrical engineering, they're not off to a good start.
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:52AM (#15568707) Journal

    If there are that many people that desperate to get into a university, the obvious question would be, why don't they just open more schools?

    I certainly hope you are joking about that last statement.

    I should start by saying I am an American and therefore have probably been exposed to much propaganda against the Chinese government. Despite this, I have tried to educate myself on the current state of China & would like to point out an RSC article [rsc.org] that talks about the history of higher education in China. Here's an excerpt from it:

    A brief history of higher education reform in China

    1949

    China's education system was based on the Russian model. Universities and colleges were divided to form specialist institutes and many universities were moved into rural areas to even out provision. These institutes were controlled by central government which also controlled the distribution of graduate students.

    1966-1976

    All formal education in China was stopped during the Cultural Revolution. During the later years, people entered university as students only by a process of recommendation. Many subjects were discontinued.

    1977

    The education system was restructured to give the system that operates today. The national university entrance exam was reintroduced and a comprehensive range of subjects became available with unified curricula for university degree courses.

    1986

    The government introduced the structural reform of higher education. Many institutes merged to form more comprehensive units. Mergers of centrally controlled institutions led to 72 'national' higher education institutes (HEIs). Mergers of locally controlled institutions led to 257 new HEIs.

    1999

    Tuition fees introduced for all university students. Fees are in the range Yuan 3000-6000 (£200-400), depending on the subject studied.

    2001

    Following China's entry into the World Trade Organization, new types of higher education establishments were introduced. These included independently funded universities and colleges, independent university-affiliated colleges for specialist subjects; and cooperation colleges that use foreign investment or foreign universities to set up an affiliated college or international university.

    Wikipedia offers a much longer explanation [wikipedia.org] including the criteria by which you were eligible for aid:

    • * top students encouraged to attain all-around excellence;
    • * students specializing in education, agriculture, forestry, sports, and marine navigation; and
    • * students willing to work in poor, remote, and border regions or under harsh conditions, such as in mining and engineering.

    The most important change is the one from 1999 where tuition fees were introduced. It is my understanding (though I could be wrong) that money is often tight and your standard laborer in China makes roughly $50-$100 USD per month. Can you expect them to afford tuition rates of £200-400? Not really.

    I guess it would require a miraculous grant to get a higher education in China and I'm certain that those are a limited number that is quite small compared to a population of one billion. Even then, the best place to find secondary education is abroad as most of the world's leading universities are in the United States.

    This isn't how a Communist country is supposed to be run. There isn't supposed to be any "tuition fees" for education. There isn't supposed to be competition dividing people into two classes (one worthy of secondary education, one not). In a perfect Communist society, I was born to do something and as long as I work hard and do it, I get the exact same education you get. I ha

    • that money is often tight and your standard laborer in China makes roughly $50-$100 USD per month. Can you expect them to afford tuition rates of £200-400? Not really.

      Hum, tuitions fee in the states are generally much more than 4 months of salary.
    • by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:19AM (#15568934) Homepage

      Welcome to the real world. Congratulations.

      The truth about ex-soc countries education is that it has been always a subject to vicious selection for any of the places that were moderately worth it. Ratios of 500:1 at Moscow state were quite common for some science majors and thousands to 1 were normal for humanities because these offered a route into the state administration. And you do not want to even have an idea about the selection ratio at whatever the name of the institute was that specialised in economics.

      Other ex-soc countries were not far behind. My wife's class in biotech at Sofia State had a selection ratio in the 250:1+ and my own chemistry class at Sofia state had a selection ration of 35:1. That is once again with a limit of 2 maximum applications within a year. That is after graduating from high schools which themselves had a selection ratio of 30:1 in her case and 200:1 in my case. Once again with similar application limits and specialisation at that time. By the way this was the norm, not a deviation across the ex-soviet block.

      In addition to that the exams were per-university (not countrywide like in the west) with a limit on how many universities you can apply to (used to be 2 in most countries). So this ratio of 500:1 or higher was after the voluntary selection performed by people estimating their chances and sending applications only to 2 universities. So the overall selection ratio was actually much much higher.

      I know that I am going to evoke some morbid egalitarian screams from the Slashdot community, but I do not see anything wrong in this. Good education implies selection.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:51PM (#15570801)
        Is if this ultra-hard nosed approach found in some of teh eastren bloc countries is the right way to do it, why are there so many great minds produced in Western European and American universities? Why do so many of the best and brightest from other countries come to study there?

        The answer is that this idea that being super elitest, super competitive and making test scores reign supreme does not foster free thinking and that's really the thing of value that can come out of a higher education. Memorizing tons of facts and formulas really isn't that useful. My computer can do that, and far better than you can. What's useful is the ability to take knowledge like that and apply it to the real world in new and novel ways, to develop new tools to attack problems, and so on.

        Perhaps American universities are too lax on admissions, but over all it seems to work pretty well. We seem to be able to produce lots of bright people and have no lack of applicants from other countries that want to come study here.

        Something I do notice is that many people who come from these ultra-competitive environments to do grad work cannot think indedpendantly to nearly any degree. If you ask them a question in terms of formulas you they know, they'll solve it in a flash. If you ask them the very same question in terms of real world interactions, they stare blankly. They've basically been trained to be little hard working computers. They study like mad and such, but all their knowledge is fragile, as it exists only in theories, not in applications.

        Richard Feynman talks about this phenomena at some length in his biography and it's a worthwhile read.
        • by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @02:56PM (#15571770) Homepage
          why are there so many great minds produced in Western European and American universities

          That depends on the scientific discipline. Just ask anyone involved with the theory behind technology about Russians and math. Or Russians and physics for that matter. That was the case least from the time when I was in an University which was pre-1995 and in many areas is still the case now.

          As far as test scores reigning supreme with all due respect you are slightly misguided.

          I have studied in both an American and an Eastern European University so I can tell you that based on first hand experience.

          In an Eastern European University the test scores reign supreme at admission. After that studying in the university itself is relatively mellow and serene. You get two a test session at the end of a semester (for some subjects even at the end of a year) with a whole month for study and review so you can actually assimilate the material before the exam. There are very few ongoing tests and virtually zero graded homework in most courses.

          American Universities are completely different to this. The one I was I had to run through a non-stop weekly, bi-weekly, monthly and semestrial test meatgrinder. An average of 4-6 tests per subject per semester. Every single one of them counted towards your grade and there was no way to relax for even a bit and assimilate what you are studying. That was topped by a 7 days exam session with one day of review time. Essentially you were being converted into an curriculum compliant automaton with virtually zero capability to stand back from the problem and say "Stop, WTF am I doing, there got to be a different way to solve this".

          So based on first hand experience with both systems, it is America which is obsessed with scores and tests (at least up to BSc level), not Eastern Europe. As far as the results of this I have enough idea of math and physics to beg to differ from your opinion.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:32AM (#15569066) Journal
      "In a perfect Communist society, I was born to do something and as long as I work hard and do it, I get the exact same education you get.
      You've got it wrong there. If what you were born to do doesn't require higher education, then you should waste state resources by getting higher education. Education is not a reward, it's a means to an end -- in the true Communist state, a way of creating workers to satisfy needs of the people that can only be done by those with higher education.

      So how does one identify who should be assigned these higher-education-requiring jobs? That's what the testing is all about. The idea is that the tests are fair as can be, since everyone is on equal footing when faced with a written examination.

      There isn't supposed to be competition dividing people into two classes (one worthy of secondary education, one not)
      In this case, you're a person who exemplifies why the system doesn't work -- you ascribe different values to the roles that workers take based upon their education. The janitor should be as highly esteemed as the doctor, provided they both do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

      I think you're missing the biggest issue here -- China is no longer a Communist state, if it ever was one. Capitalism is taking over, with the State bing the largest source of capital. This makes it more of a fascist system (though the word has become 'dirty' from its association with certain European governments of the 20th century).

      As to tuition:
      The most important change is the one from 1999 where tuition fees were introduced. It is my understanding (though I could be wrong) that money is often tight and your standard laborer in China makes roughly $50-$100 USD per month. Can you expect them to afford tuition rates of £200-400? Not really.
      First off, you're using two different currencies there. Second, compare that to US tuition. Say, for China:' $75 US per month = $900/yr. Even converting GBP to USD, tuition of $680/yr. So you've a ratio of 1.32 median income to tuition in China, using your figures (source?).

      In the US, the median income is just under 44,400 [whitehouse.gov] for a family of four, while the same year, the average total cost of college was 11,354 [cnn.com]. So the ratio is 3.91. However, consider that the median US family has 2 kids -- and your ratio is now 1.96. Now, also consider the fact that US citizens pay for a lot of services that Chinese citizens do not (either because the services are not available, or because the Chinese government pays). Finally, consider the fact that a college education in China (due to the selectivity) is the equivalent of a top-notch education in the US, where you can expect the costs of a year of top-notch college to be in excess of $30,000. In this light, the US ratio would be 1.48, which is remarkable close to the Chinese ratio.

      The difference-make here might be scholarships and grants, and I don't know if the equivalent exists in China. But the culture of sacrifice for one's child means that most parents whose child is accepted to university in China can, and do, afford to send the child -- whereas in the US, kids go to state schools even when they qualify for better education, simply because it is more easily afforded by the parents.
    • If you don't actually believe communism is viable, then nevermind what follows....

      This isn't how a Communist country is supposed to be run. There isn't supposed to be any "tuition fees" for education. There isn't supposed to be competition dividing people into two classes (one worthy of secondary education, one not). In a perfect Communist society, I was born to do something and as long as I work hard and do it, I get the exact same education you get. I haven't seen one good thing coming from China's "Commu

      • So a terrible president got elected, does it therefore follow that democracy is a failure? how many people have died at the hands of "democratic governments" over the thousands of years since democracy became a popular choice? Is that really a fault of the ideal of "democracy"?

        Or consider the Holocaust, wasn't Hitler both democratically elected to office (before using those powers to make himself a dictator), and a diligent anti-communist? How could one with such a good foundation end up with genocid
    • This isn't how a Communist country is supposed to be run.

      Well, that's kinda the problem with Communist countries. That is how they are run. Since the system doesn't really work, instead you just keep your society working as best you can using whatever alternative means you can throw together. In China, they seem to be using a combination of oppression and massive exploitation of their natural resources, in an effort to keep things together long enough to transition to a sustainable economy and government.

      Y

  • by macklin01 (760841) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:52AM (#15568710) Homepage

    This LA Times article [latimes.com] from the weekend has a more in-depth look at the grueling process of Chinese university entrance exams, and shows a bit more of the motivation to go to such lengths to cheat.

    For example:

    hinese college admissions officers don't look at your high school grades, personal interviews, recommendations or essays in making their decisions. They don't make allowances if you don't test well. They won't even cut you slack if your mother died the day before. Everything, countless years of sacrifice and hard work, boils down to this one test. Those who perform miserably have to wait another year to take the exam.

    Not a great system from any point of view. Encourages cheating. Discourages creativity, not particularly fair to the students .... -- Paul

    • don't look at your high school grades, personal interviews, recommendations or essays in making their decisions.

      We have that in Western Australia, and it works fine. Basically, you do a set of exams, the scores from which are used to calculate your 'tertiary entrance score' (TES). The students with the highest scores get accepted to Uni, those with lower scores either try again, or go on to do something else. (There are alternative methods of entry (mature age tests, grants, etc), but they're only used by

  • ...they might as well swap their old brain with a newer smarter one. They wouldn't need to cheat then.
  • Encouragement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@optonlin[ ]et ['e.n' in gap]> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:54AM (#15568723) Journal

    You hear that America! Now China is about to outdo is in another category: cheating! Are we going to stand for this?!?

    Precisely why do we care? Admittedly, if China's colleges and universities get filled with these industrious but otherwise dim individuals, we won't have to worry about China being a technological force to be reckoned with.

  • More schools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JimBobJoe (2758) <swiftheart@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:54AM (#15568727)
    why don't they just open more schools?

    (Stereotype alert)

    It's my understanding that Asians are very meritocratically oriented, and one of the results is that they must know how people rank. Even if there were more schools to accept all the potential students, people would still be racking their brains because exams would be designed to order 9 million people from the top person to Mr. 9 million.

    Their fascination with meritocracy is not necessarily a bad thing. Thomas Friedman mentioned in The world is flat that the Chinese insist on promoting people who know what they're talking about in government. With a meritocratically oriented civil service that runs all the way to the top, the leaders of Chinese government tend to be engineers and scientists, whereas we in the democratic USA are stuck with lawyers.
    • Re:More schools (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fex303 (557896)

      With a meritocratically oriented civil service that runs all the way to the top, the leaders of Chinese government tend to be engineers and scientists, whereas we in the democratic USA are stuck with lawyers.

      And in China, do they have all the lawyers design bridges and research physics?

      Lawyers making laws are not the problem with the US (or other democracies). Idiots pandering to the lowest common denominator and big business seems to be. Not that China's exactly a model of enlightened government...

      • Re:More schools (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyYar (622222)
        An elected representative doesn't need to be a lawyer to write good laws - he or she just needs to hire a lawyer. One problem with this is that the "farm system" for national politicians in the US is local politicians, and they are necessarily lawyers because they don't get much in the way of funding for staff.

        My feeling is that there is nothing wrong with lawyers being politicians per se, but they shouldn't make up almost the entire legislature! If the entire legislature were made up of engineers or doctor

    • I don't think you need to invoke anything specifc about Asians -- you can't "just open" a new Princeton or Oxford any more than you can do it for Fudan or Keio.
    • Re:More schools (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plutonium83 (818340)
      Seriously, how can you get away with saying something like this. Try talking to a 17 year old American applying to college, now make it so they can only take their SAT's ONCE, then lower the available colleges and acceptance rates, you'd see the same thing in America. "Oh, but it must be because they are Chinese!" I'm surpised someone can get a +4 by making broad generalizations like this. If parent was talking about Linux, the post would be a troll!
      • Re:More schools (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyYar (622222)
        I don't think that there's anything wrong with making some broad cultural observations in the context of a discussion like this. Of course you can't say, "He's Chinese, therefore he needs to know his rank." But you can say, "In general, Chinese people rely heavily on ranking systems." This is no worse than saying "Most Americans seem to not favor the war in Iraq." It's true and he did not approach it in an offensive way.

        As someone who works in Asia regularly, I'd say it's also largely accurate. Things like

    • Re:More schools (Score:5, Interesting)

      by posdnous (469992) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @10:13AM (#15569435)
      Chinese Universities ARE MOST definitely not a meritocracy.

      In fact it is probably the most unfair admissions process out of all the countries I have ever seen.

      The system is heavily slanted towards major cities such as beijing and shanghai. Each university has a quota system for students from each of the countries provinces. So in US terms, it would be like Harvard having a quota for high school students from each state, so if Harvard takes in 1000 students each year, it would allocate 10 students to texas, 10 students to rhode island, 20 students to california, etc....

      Now the problem is that the Major cities in China like beijing and shanghai hold most of the universities, and most of the Top universities in China, such as Peking university, Tsinghua University, FuDan university, etc... And each of those universities allocate a HUGE number of positions to students from it's local municipality.

      What this means in reality is that Beijing with a population of 18 million people will end up with like 100,000 university spots per year, and a poor, rural province like AnHui with 50 million people will end up with 5,000 university spots. This is reflected in the entrance marks too.

      A university in china does not just have ONE entrance mark, it has multiple entrance marks, one for each province which it accepts students from. This means that it will have a low entrance mark for places like beijing which it allocates the most quota to, and an extremely high entrance mark for places which it has a low quota for, like the previously mentioned anhui province.

      In education terms this means that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, not a MERITOCRACY at all.
  • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @08:59AM (#15568763) Homepage
    If there are that many people that desperate to get into a university, the obvious question would be, why don't they just open more schools?"

    Maybe because in the real world resources are finite? Yes, in a free market situation, where the price that people were willing to pay would be higher than the marginal cost of production, more would be sold, and high profit margins would encourage even more people to enter the market, satisfying even more demand; however, education is (probably) highly subsidized, and as such, every additional student or school opened costs even more money. There is also the matter of very good or even decent teachers being a finite resources. Add in the matter of prestige (everyone wants to get placed in a top school), and the fact that it doesn't make much sense to graduate a lot more people than the demand for jobs (unless you want to depress wages by increasing unemployment or think that these people will be entrepreneurs who will in the future generate even more jobs), and the fact that graduating more sub-par students in addition to the best of the best is not really necessary or all that beneficial and you will come to realize that the decision is rather rational.
  • by Blorgo (19032) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:01AM (#15568782) Homepage
    If you are from a poor Chinese family, this is the only chance you will have to get into get into a university, with the govt. paying most or all of the costs. It is a way out of poverty for a whole family; the pressures are enormous, and there are many suicides of students who failed to get high enough scores on the entrance exam (held just once per year, typically on a Thursday). So, anything goes. If you can't afford to pay a tutor, or are not quite smart enough in the first place, and don't have a Party member for a family friend to pull some strings, you are doomed to work in an IPod factory or even a rice paddy for the rest of your life. So, you do whatever it takes.

    In the west, we have lots of opportunities and second chances, and China is doing better these days, but has much govt. control still. It's a developing country, with a huge gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots'.

    I personally hope the Chinese govt. can keep things from boiling over at some point. People (over 1 Gig of people there) want more than the Govt. can supply, and it's a balancing act. Most of the top govt. officials are engineers, which (if you know engineers) is both good and bad.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:05AM (#15568818) Journal

    First, education in a top school is VERY different from education in a recently opened school with no reputation. I know because I teach in a public university. Our classes are dumbed down because the students won't get it otherwise. Most of the classes that I took in junior and senior level in my undergrad can never be taught here.

    Second, education is only a small part of the value of university. Creating life-long contacts with people who will be in your field and those who are already successful in your field is almost as (if not a bigger) part.

    Third, Ph.D. is awarded for discovering something new in a field. Try discovering something new in Math... And without a Ph.D., you can't teach in a university. This limits the number of university teachers in technical disciplines.

    And lastly, since I am compareing China to my American experience, they can't "just" open a university. It takes more than a guy with money willing to build a building. A university degree there is an official governtment document. So all programs must come with official government approval and certification.

  • by damburger (981828) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:08AM (#15568839)

    For years its been quite stylish to voice an ideology of bringing competition into all aspects of life. This situation demonstrates the horrible flaw in the idea.

    The question you've got to ask yourself is what about a person is actually being measured by the competative system? In educational systems like this one, what is being measured is the ability to pass a test. Cheaters score very highly on this scale, so you end up distilling the most ruthless cheaters from society.

    Don't get too comfortable mocking China for this though - most western countries include extensive testing in their high school education systems, in the pursuit of the almight 'competativeness', and this leads to the same kind of thing.

  • Well it would be a total waste of time if you're at home :p
  • by dindi (78034) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:11AM (#15568871) Homepage
    Because some cultures beleive, that you should only go to higher school if you can perform there.
    Your society needs farmes, car repairmen, plumbers and people who clean the streets

    HNow in other societies, you can "buy" into college, college that most people can actually finish, then you end up with a bunch of kids with a degree, who are othervise barely suitable for a simple administration job at the local fastfood restaurant, or price/wal/whatever-mart.

    I personally grew up at a place, where even getting into highschool (4 yrs after 8yrs primary) was just impossible for some, because they weren't able to perform well enough to get admission..... university exams were kind of a bloodsport back then :)

    Is that right? If you allow specialization, and have a good selection of importance choices between subjects: yes ...
    In my time, my college points included literature and history, even though I was about to go to an IT school.....
    Also in college we wasted a lot of time learning useless stuff because of the lack of specialization, and while I somewhat agree that a universal knowledge should be taught in schools (high, and some uni/college besides the obvious primary), in many times that amount of universal trash should be better considered.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:16AM (#15568915)
    You only have one shot. How far would you go?

    Imagine this: Studying is your ONLY chance to get a well paying job. There is no such thing as having THE killer idea, gathering some venture vultures and getting rich that way, you study, or you're assembling Furbys for the rest of your life.

    And you only have ONE shot. ONE try. ONE single chance to prove that you're "worth" it. It's not like "write to a billion colleges and even if MIT rejects you, the university of Wallawalla will accept you". Studying abroad is also not necessarily an option.

    You have to succeed. If it costs your life.

    How far would you go? Personally, I'd sacrifice a virgin should I find one, just for the odd chance that this might appease some kind of deity I don't believe in.
  • by ThePyro (645161) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:19AM (#15568944)
    My wife spent two years teaching English in China. The way she described her experiences, it sounded as if cheating were an accepted norm. Some teachers, rather than ask their students to refrain from cheating, instead ask them to not make it so obvious that the teacher loses face. It's just a given that many of them will cheat. And some of my wife's students explained to her that it's quite an insult to refuse another student's request to help him or her cheat; it could ruin an otherwise lengthy friendship.

    Granted, though, this was not at a top university. It was a smaller, almost trade-school atmosphere.
    • by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @11:46AM (#15570264)
      It's just a given that many of them will cheat.

      I'm in a two part class in China. The first half was in May, and I'll be back in October. We had tests throughout the class, and all the Chinese students cheated. All of them. We were split up in tables of 6 students each (about one American per table) and the Americans are the only ones that didn't cheat. Of course, out of politeness, I did keep my answer sheet open in a manner that they could easily look on it to see what I got and I waited until at least one of them coppied my answers before I turned in my test, but I didn't use theirs for my benefit. It was expected that we cheat, and some of the Americans were explicitly invited to cheat by the classmates when it was noticed that we weren't cheating. I pre-empted that by telling my table that I did not wish to cheat. They weren't offended and did honor my request by not pressing the issue. These were all professionals in a masters level class.
    • Unfortunately, there does appear to be a cultural acceptance of cheating amongst the Chinese (at least by students). I ran into this during graduate school in the US. A large percentage of the students in my year were Chinese. For one class, we were given an individual, take-home, closed-book exam and a lot of us were working on it in the departmental library. A couple of the American students, myself included, observed two tables of Chinese students who were clearly discussing answers and referencing t
    • by Dread_ed (260158) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:40PM (#15570712) Homepage
      I think I witnessed an importation of this cultural idea when I was in highschool.

      We had a group of about 40 mostly Asian students that we called the "Xerox club." They would all get together in the morning before school in the cafeteria with the other studens. While everyone else was studying, eating, or trying to catch one last wink before school these guys and girls were copying their homework. Usually only 1 or 2 people would do the assignment and then they would pass it around for the others to copy. Once you finished copying you handed it to someone else so that everyone culd finish before the bell. It was pretty stealthy because while some were copying other people were taking and having a good time like normal, but all the students in the higher level classes knew what they were doing. Most of us had participated at one time or another as well. As long as you were cool with them they didn't mind you getting in on the action.

      There were 2 funny results. First, every once in awhile people would grab the wrong assignment and turn it in. Sometimes it went unnoticed but other times they had to explain why they had someone elses homeowrk. Easy enough, we were studying together, etc. What was better is that one of my friends showed me that the teacher had graded his calculus homework and not even noticed that it wasn't his. He laughed and said something about "All Asians must look the same" to the teacher.

      Second, copying doesn't teach well. Many of those students were in AP classes and after a few weeks of taking the copying shortcut they were behind on the book knowledge. They were pretty desperate come test time and many of them cheated. I saw furtive coded hand signals, almost microscopically written notes in the side of a pencil, ye olde graphing calculator with memory trick (that was new in my day), and even the long-sleeves-in-summer-with-stuff-written-on-your- arm method.

      What surprised me the most was that the people who cheated could rely on the students that knew the answers (the ones they ultimately copied off of) to help them cheat on the tests too.
  • by Therlin (126989) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:25AM (#15568997)
    My previous employer taught American courses in China through Chinese universities. Cheating was a huge problem.

    Tests were done online. Students used all sorts of IM software to message each other. They used cell phones to text friends outside of the room with the books. IMs were blocked. Cell phones confiscated on the way into the rooms. They still found ways to cheat.

    Some instructors stopped testing online and moved to paper tests. Students would pay the university's copy center to get copies of the exam.

    For Internet tests, some instructors now only ask questions that do not require the use of the keyboard. The keyboards are placed on top of the monitors before the tests begin so that students cannot send any messages to anyone.

    Plagarism? Standard everyday occurance.

    Then students get caught and told that they are going to fail the course. Then they cry and ask for another chance because they don't want to go back home and not have a future. When given that chance, they are often caught again in the future.
    • by Srin Tuar (147269) <zeroday26@yahoo.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @11:08AM (#15569920)
      Sounds like incompetence.

      Its very easy to rig up a computer so that it can only be used for test-taking, and has
      no ability to send IM's or otherwise help the test-taker cheat.

      If you allow a student access to a general purpose computer with network access of any kind,
      then you are basically allowing them full access to all information on the internet. (for many
      things, this degrades the test into a test of their search skills)

      For some subjects, there is nothing wrong with that type of "cheating": if you can find the answer than you
      can do the job. (in the real world you'll have a desktop and google available to you, so have at it)
      That does not apply to all subjects however.

      Another way to discourage cheating is to have the students compete against one another.
      (the downside is that curves punish the brightest and reward mediocrity in many cases)
      I wouldnt advise curves, standards should be objective.

      Yet another way is to make each student take a unique test: Even simple shuffling the order of the
      questions around, while making sure that the test-taker cannot view more than one question at a time
      and cannot backtrack, effectively squelches many forms of synchronized or low-bandwidth cheating.

      More subtle techniques involve giving similar questions that have slight differences, so that cheaters
      who assume two questions are the same without looking too closely will be misled to choose the wrong answer.
      Another technique is to "camouflage" questions by changing trivial details such as proper nouns/advectives/contants
      and other details that do not affect the answer to the question.

      In reality, a minimal effort should be able to prevent 99% of cheating attempts, and this should not be a big problem.
      Lack of effort on part of the test administrators, or simple lack of confidience are to blame when cheating is high.

      In any case, you cannot blame the students: they need to score high compared to their peers, or it will have a negative
      impact on their lives. If they don't take advantage of every tool at their disposal, then they will do poorly.

      • A lot of it was incompetence by the instructors in China. It took us forever to get them to activate the "randomize" option in the tests. Others just didn't want to have to write more questions so that each student would get a test largely different from the people next to him or her.

        I also suggested software that locks down the computer and just gives you a very stripped down browser (SecureExam, Lock Down Browser, etc, etc) and this was always dismissed as "too expensive."

        I got out of there. Dealing wi
  • by milamber3 (173273) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:26AM (#15569008)
    I think that the government would be against opening more schools. It seems that the more educated a society as a whole becomes, the more political opposition to oppression there would be. I met quite a few graduate students from China when I was in school and I will always remember something this one TA told my EE2 lab. He said that almost no one in the higher education system supported communism. They all had to take classes and tests on the subject and that was the only area where everyone was completelty disinterested and large scale cheating was completely overlooked. I'm not saying that everyone who goes on to university will automatically fight the government but I think there is a history of more education leading to that sort of thing.
  • by Tungbo (183321) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:38AM (#15569122)
    I don't know about the cheating part.
    But look in Japan, Taiwan, Singaport, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia...

    There is intense competition in all these places in order to enter a
    decent college. Consequently, the students go to cram schools and
    devote most of their high school years in preparing for the exams.

    This gives a good grounding in the basics and select people who tests well.
    It doe NOT mean that they can be good researchers, enterpreneurs,
    corporate workers or teachers. The US system probalby is better preparation
    in those areas. OTOH, I don't think the US schools' low expectation in sciense,
    history/cultural studies, and math is very smart either.
  • It's the system, man (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:40AM (#15569145)
    China doesn't need to open any more schools. There are plenty. I wouldn't be surprised if Beijing alone has more colleges than the entire state of Texas, and I say this as one who lives there. Even the locals aren't sure how many schools there are in Beijing, because there are so many colleges here that it's almost impossible to keep track. I can think of 9 famous ones right off the top of my head, and that's only scratching the surface.

    However, I also understand why so many people cheat on their exams. It's all about the money, and not necessarily just scholarships. The tuition structure for Chinese universities is exactly opposite that in the United States.

    This is how Chinese high school seniors and their parents have explained it to me:

    In the USA, we consider our private schools, our Yales and our Harvards, to be the "best." They're priced accordingly. State schools are considerably cheaper and, agree or disagree, considered by most to be "worse" than private institutions.

    The Chinese think this is bizarre. The "best" two schools in China, Beijing University for Liberal Arts and Qinghua University for Science and Engineering, are both operated by the government. Tuition at these schools is mind-bendingly low. A couple thousand US dollars per year. Practically free, by Western standards, and literally free if you qualify for aid.

    There are also 2nd and 3rd tier government schools, and as the school is ranked progressively worse, the tuition rises progressively higher. At the bottom of the barrel are private schools, which charge tuition equal to or higher than (in US dollars, they tell me!) Harvard or Yale.

    Weird, right? The reason, however, is both simple and time-tested: corruption. Everybody wants a college degree, because that's how you find a good job. At the highest quality universities, there's no wiggle room: you either performed well on your college entrance exam, or you didn't. As you move down through the levels, though, the opportunities for "using the back door," or buying your way in, become greater and greater. Thus, private schools exist for the sole purpose of letting rich parents buy their idiot kid a degree certificate.

    So. If a kid isn't bright, and his parents aren't loaded, he'll do whatever he has to on the one test that will define the rest of his life. I don't know how many of you know Chinese people, or how they interact with their families. Let me just tell you: if a Chinese kid blows it on the big day, his mother will never, ever, ever shut up about it. Until the very day she dies.
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @09:50AM (#15569220) Homepage Journal
    Education in China is primarily publicly funded -- just like in the US. In the US we have similar problems: cartels of licensed industries (Engineers, Architects, Doctors, Dentists, Teachers, anything licensed) control the number of slots of available future workers. More workers in a given licensed industry means more competition which means lower prices ("wages") for that cartelized industry.

    The AMA in America has lobbied Congress to reduce the number of medical students. The long term effect? Higher medical prices.

    State licensing is the reason why China doesn't allow more schools to be opened. It is also the reason why the U.S. has such huge subsidies for college (easy State loans, etc) and why many licensed jobs bring in so much money even though they may not necessarily be more difficult than lower paying unlicensed jobs.
  • by Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @10:23AM (#15569533)
    A few days ago I remember reading an article from a magazine (Helsingin Sanomat, if I remember corretly), where an expert on China, said that about 1/3 of graduating students wont find jobs, and academic unemployment is a growing issue. Also in the same article he said that many universities make up or fix their graduate employment statistics to lure better students. So fixing the problem of students cheating by opening up more schools, isn't the answer.
  • by AtlanticCarbon (760109) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @10:28AM (#15569577)
    In my experience, countries with free (or very cheap) higher education impose a lot of barriers on entrance and graduation. They do this because the state can't afford to educate everyone at a higher level. While my preference is a mixed contribution system like US public/state schools, at least in privitized systems you can get an education if you're willing to take the risk (debt).
    I wonder what the actual cost per student is in China and what percentage of an average yearly income it represents.

    I wish in more countries (including the US) there were cheaper options to pursue education via self-study. I've attended universities with pools, fancy fitness centers and well-known research professors (for whatever they're worth to students) but I've learned most when simply reading books I've chosen on my own. I'd like a more fleshed out CLEP-like system where you study on your own and then pay for a test that will measure your knowledge of the subject. I recognize self-study doesn't work at all levels, but one should be able to learn on one's own by the the time they graduate from high school.

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