College ordered to revise student internships at Foxconn factory

The education authority in Shaanxi province has ordered a college that sent student interns to Foxconn to revise its cooperation agreement with the company to better protect students.

Hui Chaoyang, director of the provincial education department, said the department has found problems with the management of the work experience activities of Xi'an Technological University's North Institute of Information Engineering.

They alleged the college forced students to take internships in one of the Taiwan-based electronics giant's factories in Yantai, Shandong province. Some interns were made to work overtime on the assembly line.

Hui said the college did not offer other work experience options for students.

Some of the work was not in line with the objectives of the students' professional training, Hui said. For instance, students majoring in finance and accounting were also put to work on assembly lines.

The official added that some students were also required to work much harder than expected.

The college decided on Sunday to suspend its cooperation agreement with Foxconn and around 1,000 students working for the factory will return to school by Wednesday, said Zhang Jun'an, president of the college.

Zhang said the school started cooperating with Foxconn's Yantai plant in 2010 and has sent students there every summer vacation.

Zhang acknowledged the school received 100 yuan (S$20 ) per student from Foxconn as a management fee if the student worked in the factory for two months.

"The amount of the management fee in 2012 was some 70,000 to 80,000 yuan and in 2013 reached more than 100,000 yuan. Our school used the money for student activities such as teaching contests and sports games," Zhang said.

Students also earned some wages for their work.

In the past three years of cooperation with Foxconn, the school also received financial support from the company to establish scholarships and teaching awards to encourage excellent students and teachers, and for the construction of a laboratory. The financial support totaled more than 300,000 yuan, Zhang said.

This summer vacation, more than 5,000 students from the institute were sent to Foxconn's Yantai factory from late July to late September.

A student surnamed Li told China Daily she had to work more than 10 hours a day on the assembly line pasting labels on recording pens.

"The work was hard and boring, and we do not think such so-called work experience made any sense," the student said.

Another student surnamed Wang said they were required to take part in the work experience activities as this gained them six academic credits toward their diplomas.

Foxconn admitted last week that its Yantai factory forced the students to work overtime and on night shift, which broke the company's rules, and vowed to resolve the problem.

From 2009, cases of students from Chongqing and Jiangsu, Shanxi and Shaanxi forced to work in Foxconn have been reported regularly and people suspected the students are used to tackle the company's labour shortage.

Shi Ying, deputy director of Shaanxi provincial academy of social sciences, said such work experience for students was justified and essential but arranging overtime for the students broke Chinese labour law.

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