The Jinan Times is a daily newspaper based in Shandong province. Today’s front page features a picture of a distressed student along with a phony university admissions letter. The headline reads: “68 ‘university students’ realize on the eve of their graduation that they have been duped.” The story is about a recently uncovered higher education scam, where a man called Zhao Lianshan distributed fake university admission offers to students who had not scored high enough on the entrance exam to get in.
Zhao’s letter offered these would-be students admission to the Shandong Institute of Light Industry, through a new pilot program for students who had not scored as well. They could enroll as full-time students for four years, and pay about RMB 8,000 per year in tuition. Sixty-eight students agreed to enroll, and it was not until June 3, 2012, four years later, that they realized they had never been enrolled in the Shandong Institute of Light Industry. The whole college career had been a sham, and Zhao Lianshan, the man who devised it, has disappeared.
As one student told the Jinan Times, “Until now, our teachers all claimed to be from the Shandong Institute. We only just found out they’re not affiliated with the university at all. So now they’re avoiding us, and not answering their phones.”
The fake school was officially set up as a training school on the grounds of the Shandong Institute. It was in charge of its own admission, finances, teaching and administration. Yet the letterheads were fake, and copied from the university itself.
When asked about the incident, the local police said, “we ourselves are victims here.” They would like to track down Zhao, but have been unsuccessful.
The students who were tricked are very anxious about their futures, and several are hesitant to tell their families what has happened.
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Jinan Times: 68名“大学生”临毕业方知是“黑户”