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    Med Students Protest at Shandong University, Fear Unemployment

    Protesters worry they will lack necessary certificates upon graduation because their curriculum has yet to catch up with nationwide reforms.

    Shandong University has promised to find a solution after more than a hundred medical students protested on campus Thursday, saying the school’s out-of-date curriculum will render them unemployable.

    The university in eastern China is one of the few in the country that has yet to completely implement the so-called 5+3 model, in which students complete a five-year bachelor’s program followed by either three years of training as a resident or a master’s degree.

    More than 300 students who started their studies in 2010 and 2011 are still enrolled in the school’s old seven-year program, which the students say means they will not have the right certificates come graduation to find employment. Clad in white uniforms and surgical masks, some 130 students lined up in front of a school building holding banners saying they had no alternative but to petition for their rights.

    “The seven-year system has put us at a disadvantage in both the job market and graduate-degree application,” a Shandong University student, who was involved in the protests and as such declined to give his name, told Sixth Tone on Monday. He said that following the introduction of the 5+3 model, most graduate schools and hospitals demand to see certificates that graduates of the older seven-year programs have trouble obtaining.

    According to a report by Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, students at Dalian Medical University in northeastern China’s Liaoning province expressed similar concerns in April.

    In 2015, the Ministry of Education and several other government departments released a notice urging schools in the country that offered seven-year clinical medicine programs to phase them out in favor of the 5+3 model. Students who enrolled in or after 2010 could change models midstream “according to the wishes of the students and the situation at the school,” a government document stated.

    But the Shandong University student told Sixth Tone that the school had never asked him or his peers for their opinions. Students had petitioned the school last year to reform the curriculum, but to no avail, he said. After Thursday’s protests, some of the students met with the school’s principal, who promised that the curriculum would be switched to the 5+3 model, he said.

    Shandong University posted on its Weibo microblog on Thursday night that “after communicating with related departments, substantial progress was achieved and a solution plan is on its way.”

    A spokesperson for the publicity department of Shandong University told Sixth Tone on Monday that the university is still working to solve the problem. He said he was not at liberty to talk about why the reforms had yet to be implemented for students who enrolled in 2010 and 2011 or to elaborate on what the Weibo post’s mention of “substantial progress” entailed.

    The student said he and his classmates had yet to receive anything in writing that would back up the verbal promises the school administration had made.

    (Header image: Medical students, holding a banner that reads ‘We’ve studied medicine for seven years but don’t know where to go,’ protest curriculum reform at Shandong University in Jinan, Shandong province, Dec. 8, 2016. @LuckyCurie from Weibo)