Chinese university system faces stronger anti-graft oversight

Chinese university system faces stronger anti-graft oversight

The Ministry of Education will implement stronger scrutiny over the university system's leaders and impose harsher punishments for corruption, the country's top anti-graft agency said on Sunday.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China published, on Sunday, 18 measures developed by the Education Ministry that require ministry-affiliated institutes and colleges to strengthen supervision over key processes, including promotions, enrollment, campus construction and the allocation of research funds.

Anti-graft supervision should specifically target high-ranking officials such as college presidents, deans and admission officials, who hold absolute power in major areas related to the allocation of resources and funds as well as staff appointments, according to the measures.

The Ministry of Education also requires its affiliated departments and colleges to strictly implement the clean-governance standards for officials' office occupancy, government-car use, business trips and official receptions.

The measures state that disciplinary bodies should regularly inspect school officials' personal finances, housing conditions and gifts received, in the wake of a series of corruption scandals involving university officials.

Zhong Binglin, president of the Chinese Society of Education, applauded the supervision-strengthening measures while stressing that decentralizing administrative power within schools is crucial as well.

"The decision-making system in China's universities should be changed by a multiple-stakeholder system-something like school boards overseas-to balance the current centralization of power, along with instilling proper supervision and accountability mechanisms," Zhong said.

Most college presidents and other high-ranking officials in key departments are appointed by higher-level governments rather than being elected, giving them absolute power, which in turn has created a breeding ground for corruption.

At least five university presidents and high-ranking officials stepped down in 2013 after being investigated on corruption charges.

Cai Rongsheng, former head of admissions at Beijing's Renmin University of China, was arrested in May on charges of receiving huge bribes for selling university admission seats.

Cai was put under official investigation in November 2013 after being accused of taking over 10 million yuan (S$2.1 million) to "help" students get enrolled by the high-profile university.

Chen Yingxu, a former professor at Zhejiang University, was sentenced to 10 years in jail by the Intermediate People's Court of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in January for embezzling more than 9 million yuan of research funds by fabricating receipts and contracts.

In late December 2013, Chu Jian, then vice-president of Zhejiang University, was investigated for allegedly misappropriating State-owned assets.

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