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Students claim institute's job skills course a scam

HUNDREDS of college students have fallen into what they consider to be a training institute's scam by paying thousands of yuan but ending up taking only simple outdoor orientations or even no classes at all.

Students with several universities reported paying 2,000 yuan (US$315) to 9,000 yuan for a "job-seeking, skills training course" at a Nanjing-based training institute's Shanghai branch, hoping to improve their skills in the face of stiff employment competition.

But in return, some of them were given coarse lessons in dilapidated rental houses, some were taken to outdoor orientation activities and some even got no classes at all so far.

"I have received many reports from students against the company since last year," said Ye Chiming, president of Shanghai University. "Their scam is very perfect and it's hard to sue them," he said.

A group of 40 nonlocal students who had run into a similar scam teamed up to file a lawsuit against the firm in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, but lost the lawsuit earlier this year. Because the firm has contracts signed by students willing to pay for training, lawsuits are difficult to win.

The firm first claims to work with education authorities to provide free job-seeking training to students, inviting them to come to its office in Xuhui District. It then asks students to take a test about their job-seeking skills and gives them very low scores to induce them to apply for a training course, students say.

They pressured the students by talking to them for hours about the training and not allowing them to leave before they signed the contract, some students said.

"I was very naive," said Qiu Lin, a senior at Shanghai University. He applied for a course in 2008 when he was a freshman and signed a contract without reading it carefully.

He paid 2,000 yuan for the training and had just one class, which he said was of very low quality. The firm's staff asked him to visit them a year later to persuade him to attend another training class to get a skill license recognized by the Ministry of Education. He refused, despite their talking with him for hours.

The firm tried to force him to "upgrade his card" to continue his service by paying more money when he was a junior. They talked to him for several hours but failed. The staff even tried to order him to pay money to cancel the training card if he was not willing to upgrade it.

The firm changes its name frequently, according to the license records registered with the industrial and commercial authorities, apparently to avoid being exposed.


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