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August 27, 2009

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Home » Metro » Education

Police probe school that failed

HUNDREDS of students from all over the country have to scramble to find alternative schools after their dreams to attend college in Shanghai were put in jeopardy by what education authorities say might have been a swindle.

The Shanghai Education Commission confirmed yesterday that the Shanghai Jing Mao College, which claimed it would open in Songjiang University Town, had never registered and didn't not have a license to operate.

Education officials and Songjiang District police were working yesterday to make sure that the 200 students who paid tuition would get their money back.

The school's executive principal, Gu Yizhong, was in the process of refunding the fees yesterday, and most of the students had already been repaid, the district police said.

Investigators are also looking into whether a crime occurred. Gu was ordered to post bond and must remain in the city.

The college had collected more than 700,000 yuan (US$102,465) in tuition fees. The money was supposed to help young people, mostly students whose test scores and grades wouldn't qualify them for a traditional university, get training for tests that would allow them to obtain the equivalent of a college degree.

Students from about 10 provinces, some from as far away as Heilongjiang in northeast China, traveled to the Songjiang campus on Tuesday to find the school didn't exist.

'Just a lie'

"The libraries, air-conditioned dormitories and other beautiful things promised in the introduction booklet were just a lie," said Lin Mengyuan, an 18-year-old from Zhejiang Province.

She didn't score well in the national college entrance examination and couldn't enroll in her preferred majors at other schools.

"I found (Shanghai Jing Mao) via the Internet, and it seemed to be professional and reliable," she said.

Most of the victims were non-locals like Lin with poor academic credentials who came to the Shanghai school with a dream to study in the big city.

The school did not require would-be entrants to provide past grades or test scores; it enrolled anyone who could pay the annual tuition of around 10,000 yuan.

School officials told the students that Shanghai Jing Mao couldn't open due to a lack of dormitories and unforeseen events.

The school's operator, an education consulting firm, had registered to open a non-degree education institute in Hongkou District under the district education bureau. But it had not been granted a license to open the branch school in Songjiang District or authorized to launch the degree training program, education officials said.

So Songjiang University Town refused to allow Shanghai Jing Mao to rent facilities such as dorms and classrooms.

The Only College, a licensed school that offers college-equivalant degree training, is planning to take many of the students.


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