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2022-07-20 11:14:01

A 19 million yuan ($2.8 million) plan from a Chinese university to hire nearly two dozen doctoral graduates from a private foreign academic institution has raised questions about the integrity and reliability of its PhD degree and the talent introduction program.

Shaoyang University in the central Hunan province said it would recruit 23 PhD holders from Adamson University in the Philippines to work in its academic and managerial departments, according to an announcement published earlier this month. All but one were former faculty members at the university before starting their doctoral degree.

Adamson University, a private higher educational institution in the Philippine capital Manila, has been given a ranking of 601+ in the QS University Rankings Asia 2021. However, certification of degrees from the university has been subject to extended review from the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange under the Ministry of Education since last year.

Some social media users have questioned the value of a doctoral degree from Adamson University due to the university’s questionable standing and a shorter time needed to get a degree, compared with usually three to four years at domestic universities. Some accused Shaoyang University of trying to increase the proportion of faculty members with a PhD in a short period to raise the school’s academic ranking.

Shaoyang University hadn’t responded to the controversy. Sixth Tone’s calls to the school went unanswered on Wednesday.

Zhang Ping, a former faculty member at Shaoyang University who used a pseudonym for privacy reasons, told Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, that the high threshold for earning a doctorate in China, coupled with the evaluation of universities and faculty linked to the education background, has led many teachers to choose universities in the Philippines due to the relatively easier graduation process.

“Local colleges and universities often send teachers for a doctoral degree in batches like wholesale goods,” Zhang said. “The model of studying abroad usually relies on third-party agencies which aim to make money.”

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A view of Shaoyang University, Hunan province, From Weibo)