Angry students clashed with police and security staff at a college in eastern China on the weekend over claims they had been studying for a fake degree.
Most of the photos and videos posted to social media of the disturbance at the Nanjing Institute of Applied Technology have now been removed.
In an online statement on Saturday, Nanjing police blamed the violence on a few students who had sneaked back into the school on Friday after being expelled. They had “stirred up trouble among students, smashing doors and windows”. Two students had sustained leg injuries, according to the police statement.
But the trouble appears to have started with accusations that the institute recruited students through false promises of associate degrees and the qualifications required for nursing.
Instead, the students were shocked to learn, shortly before graduation, that the degrees they had worked so hard to attain were for nothing more than home economics, with a focus on home care and nursing.
The discovery sparked angry protests by students and their parents which were subdued by police.
An investigation is under way by the Nanjing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, which said on Monday that the school did not have approval from the authorities when it worked with the Nanjing Oriental Arts and Science College and Yingtian Vocational and Technical College to develop the course.
In the statement on China’s Weibo microblogging platform, the bureau also said it was “actively seeking solutions” and “maintaining order at the school” should be one of the priorities.
The scandal surfaced on April 23, when the institute advised students they needed to transfer to Yingtian Vocational and Technical College to receive their degrees. Otherwise, they would only be entitled to a secondary school graduation certificate from the institute.
One student told Shanghai-based news portal The Paper that, when she was accepted by the school in 2016, the admission letter said it was for a five-year programme majoring in “nursing”. She had taken three years of classes related to nursing, before she was told she needed to transfer to Yingtian.
She asked the staff at Yingtian and was told it had no nursing major. She then checked her own status through an official online system and found her registered major was “home economics”.
The institute, established in 2003, has more than 6,000 students and charges an annual fee of 16,000 yuan (US$2,380), according to its website.
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