A college education has become increasingly expensive in many places, and in China, loans and subsidies have been reserved for those who really qualify for them. At one university, students applying for the grants now are being asked to deliver speeches to their class about how poor they are and why they need the money.
At the university in Shenyang in Liaoning province in the northeast, students prepared detailed speeches about their financial situations and presented them in front of their classes. Subsidized tuition was granted for those who got the most votes from their classmates. The university said it's requiring the speeches in order to ensure a fair shot at the grants for those who showed the most need.
In the past, some people who did not in fact qualify were given subsidies because they were able to fake the paperwork. To combat this, the university decided to try the speeches.
Unsurprisingly, the policy has caused a backlash. Some students have anonymously come forward to reporters to say they felt hurt by the new procedures. One student, who goes by the last name Li, said his less financially favored classmates were subjected to embarrassment by being asked to talk about their money, or rather their lack of, and being voted on. According to a report by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, Li wrote on his Weibo microblog that the speeches were incredibly painful to make for some, describing some students as unable to lift their heads after their presentations.
“Is this really fair?” another student surnamed Liu asked aloud to the reporter. Liu said though the goal of the new procedure was to weed out fakers, it instead has created an unintentional competition of orators. “Some people are willing to speak, and votes will come naturally, but some, like me, don’t want to talk about it,” Liu said. Now, he fears he won’t be receiving votes. At the same time, Liu says he doesn’t want his financial needs to affect how people treat him, for better or worse. “I do not want people to sympathize, but I do not want to become a laughing stock.”
Xinhua reporters called the head of the Shenyang University Propaganda Department, a Mr. Chen, who confirmed that the speeches were indeed the method of distributing grants but refused to comment further.