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Question the new enrollment ways

By Liu Weiling (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-03-07 13:26
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Editor's note: The college enrollment reform announced days ago aims to offer students another opportunity to enter their ideal universities. However, how can it ensure its fairness and transparency to be a better alternative than the current entrance exam system? 

"Mom, how can I enter my ideal university if I just don't want to take the national college entrance exams?" asked my 13-year-old son. The junior high school student was attracted by the news on TV that universities will take various ways to enroll students rather than only through the exams.

"You have to take the exam," I told him. "No way out."

The enrollment reform is part of China's medium and long-term education reform scheme, which was announced days ago and is soliciting public opinion. According to the plan, universities will judge students' potential not only by their performance in the exams. Instead, they can waive the normal recruitment procedure to admit students they believe to be outstanding or have special talents through ways like special recommendation, small-scale exams organized by the universities themselves, or even recruiting students who are pre-assigned for specific posts or areas.

It sounds great. For years the decades-old rigid system has been bombarded by educators, analysts, teachers, students and possibly their parents. Students call it a once-in-a-life battle while experts say it stifles real talents.

If a good student failed to perform well in the exams held in June every year, he or she would never have opportunity to get into a good university. At the meantime, the exams, conducted in several courses like Chinese, English, math, physicals, chemical, history and etc, is a disaster for some people who have extremely outstanding talents in one specific area, because failure in any of the courses will drag down his or her total scores.

But, wait please. Before we launch this ambitious reform which will affect the fate of millions of students every year, parents like me just want to know how universities can ensure the new enrollment ways can be conducted fairly and there won't be any under-the-table transactions.

At first, majority of students who can slip into top universities through these newly-opened doors will be from big cities, I believe. Students from the countryside, as smart as their urban peers, will have no access to get advantage from the reform.

Most of the recommendation quota will be given to famous middle schools in big cities, -- that's what the prestigious Peking University is doing now. Even if in the future, the quotas are distributed fairly to urban and rural schools, students from rural remote areas, with little opportunities to see the world, to experience new technologies, to read more books, to learn to play pianos or ballet, will very possibly lose to their urban counterparts in face-to-face interviews when discussing topics like Avatar and web buzzword. Making presentation in English could also be a tough challenge for them.

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