Chinese education authorities are investigating a student who took the country’s tough university entrance exam, known as gaokao, three times at different schools and received large payments for achieving high marks .
The student, surnamed Quan, was admitted twice to the prestigious Peking University (PKU) and reportedly paid two million yuan (S$415,000) in total.
Secondary schools often offer financial incentives to students who pass the infamously difficult exam, if they are admitted to universities like PKU or Tsinghua University, the two top educational institutions in China.
After the story broke and sparked heated public debate, the local education authority in southern China’s Guangdong province launched an investigation.
Quan took the gaokao in 2020 and 2021 and was admitted by PKU both times based on his high scores. At the time, he was attending the Beida Affiliated Experimental School in Zhanjiang, Guangdong, later renamed the Boya School in 2021.
He was later transferred to Qingniao Experimental School in Huazhou, southwest Guangdong Province, earlier this year and served on the gaokao for the third time.
Earlier this month, the Huazhou school released a congratulatory poster praising Quan for earning the highest grades among 70,000 students in Maoming city, which administers Huazhou.
It is unclear whether Quan was admitted again by PKU this year. But with such a high score, he would easily be admitted to any elite university of his choice.
The two middle schools award one million yuan to students who make it to PKU or Tsinghua University, according to enrollment announcements.
There is no policy governing how many times a person can take the gaokao. Chinese media have often reported on people repeatedly retaking gaokao after failing to score high enough to gain admission to their favorite universities.
An official from PKU’s student registration department said it was up to Quan to accept or decline an offer of admission, Shandong news site w.dzwww.com reported.
Tianmu News said the Huazhou Education Bureau is investigating Quan’s case and will release the results of the investigation later. Local media reported that Quan told his classmates at Zhanjiang school that he gave up his place at PKU the first time because the major he was given was not what he was given. wanted to study.
Many private secondary schools in Mainland China offer cash incentives to entice top-performing students to enroll and retake gaokao. Students who change schools and achieve high gaokao scores can improve the school’s reputation and help it attract more enrollment.
Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said that while most students retake the gaokao in hopes of getting into a better university or major, some are seen as “professional test takers”, who retake the test for the lucrative incentives offered by private institutions.
“These students see resuming gaokao as a way to earn money,” Xiong told the South China Morning Post. “For students and institutions alike, it’s myopic and mercenary.”
“This student took a place at Peking University. He has no credit. What he did is not fair to other students,” one person posted on Weibo.
Another user said, “He makes money with his academic ability. I just want to say that even PKU graduates can’t make that much money in two years.
This article was first published in the South China Morning Post.