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Corruption on College Campuses
Summary:14 university officials have been investigated for corruption in Jiangxi Province over the past five years, including three university presidents. Due to a huge influx in college admissions, universities nationwide are undergoing massive expansions allowing many opportunities for graft during construction.

Photo: Nanchang Hangkong University

By Shen Nianzu (
Issue 622, June 2, 2013

Nation, page 9
Translated by Zhu Na
Original article: 

In May, Nanchang University President Zhou Wenbin (周文斌) was detained and removed from the 12th National People's Congress. A source close to the Jiangxi provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection revealed that the case is related to construction of the school’s new campus.

In the past five years, 14 university officials in Jiangxi have been involved in corruption related to campus construction - three of whom were university presidents.  

Du Zhizhou (杜治洲), vice-director of the Clean Politics Institution in Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics, found that from 1988 to 2009, out of 200 corruption cases in public universities nationwide, 34 percent were related to construction.

The chief prosecutor in a Jiangxi city revealed that Zhou’s case is related to the bribery case of Liu Zhihe (刘志和), the former vice president of Nanchang Hangkong University (NCHU). Allegedly, both cases involved bribery by the same person. In February, Liu was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for accepting bribes related to university construction. 

Liu worked at NCHU for over 20 years, during which he was in charge of school property and infrastructure. During his tenure as vice president, when he oversaw new campus construction, he accepted bribes of 2.62 million yuan from 12 different people. Most of these alleged bribes happened just before holidays like Spring Festival

Tang Xinbo (唐新波), a lawyer from Beijing Kangda Law Firm, has worked on a number of university bribery cases. “Some leaders and cadres lack vigilance in thought,” Tang said. “They see these holiday ‘red envelopes’ and ‘cash gifts’ as part of keeping social relationships and welcome them. This results in festival periods being high-season for corruption.” 

Xiao Yang (a pseudonym), a professor in the Nanchang University School of Economics and Management, says that the system is to blame for these cases. Two years ago, former director of Nanchang University’s infrastructure office Zhou Guangwen (周光文) was also detained for taking bribes. Xiao Yang said the project in question involved 2 billion yuan, so it couldn’t have been just one person that had the final say. He believes both Zhou Wenbin and Zhou Guangwen are victims of the existing university infrastructure system.

There’s a joke floating around Chinese universities saying, “If you like him, put him in charge of infrastructure. If you hate him, also put him in charge of infrastructure."

In 2009, Wang Wei (王伟), who was thenon the Standing Committee of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said that infrastructure construction in the education system had become the area most prone to corruption.

Sun Yi (孙义), director of Nanjing University of Technology’s infrastructure office, has done special research on this issue. He says that by the most conservative estimate, at least 2 billion yuan has been illegally diverted to private hands nationwide through university construction. In these cases, it’s not only top university officials that are responsible. Several levels of infrastructure personnel have been discovered accepting bribes from project managers, suppliers and contractors.

According to Sun Yi’s research based on 100 criminal cases, the longest period between when a criminal began their corruption and when they were first investigated was 12 years. The average timespan was four-and-a-half years. Sun says that during their period of criminal activity, not a single of the 100 people was demoted or fired. In fact, 32 received promotions.

Because of China’s rapid growth in college enrollment, campuses have had to keep up with the expanding infrastructure demand with major construction projects. According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, more university cafeterias and dormitories were built in 2006 than during the previous 50 years combined.

Jiangxi Daily reported in 2003 that the local government had invested 12 million yuan in two areas in Nanchang with several college campuses. This stimulated 10 billion yuan in university infrastructure investment, which created huge potential for corruption.

Sun Yi says that universities have their own infrastructure, accounting, auditing, and discipline inspection offices, so it’s difficult for outside supervision to be effective. This, he believes, is the main reason for the serious corruption issues. “Our solution is to let more people be involved in making decisions and try decentralizing power,” he says.



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