Last week, 18 students at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Central China’s Hubei province didn’t have enough credits to graduate. Instead, they received certificates from a less prestigious polytechnic program, comparable to a degree from a community college in the U.S.
The news went viral on social media in China, where it is rare to see university students struggle so much. The average rate of students who fail to finish their degree courses at top-ranked universities in China is around 5%, compared to 20% in Ivy League schools in the U.S., said Zhang Duanhong, associate professor in Tongji University’s Higher Education Research Institute.
The Chinese government has long promoted higher education, but it has loose restrictions on graduation. Ever since China’s Ministry of Education reformed the admissions system to encourage more enrollment in 1998, the number of undergraduates has surged from less than 7 million to 30 million.