Chinese Students Study For Gaokao
Students in China taking the grueling gaokao college entrance exam Beijing Cream

As China’s notoriously difficult college entrance exam, the feared "gaokao," continues to be mired in controversy, some Chinese may be tempted to skip higher learning and just obtain a diploma from one of Beijing’s several fake universities. Human resources managers looking to hire from China, be warned: If you see a school like Capital University of Finance and Economics, Beijing Economic and Trade Institute or Beijing Foreign Trade Institute while reading over a resume, they’re fake.

In China, these illegitimate schools are called “universities of wild chickens,” and refer to institutions that have deceptive names that are similar to real, well-known universities, the main difference being that the fake ones have no licensing that allows them to even accept students, let alone reward degrees. Still, that does not stop those students who scored poorly on their gaokaos from turning to these kinds of institutions to get a fake diploma.

According to a report by the China-based Economic Observer, a list of “diploma mills” was posted by university Web resource, exposing 100 supposed schools that do not have any appropriate accreditation or permits to be included the official Private College Students Information Public Platform that is required to be recognized in China.

The epicenter of the fraudulent schools seems to be in the nation’s capital, Beijing. According to the report, 70 of the 100 bogus institutions listed could be found in Beijing. According to the Economic Observer, there are currently 43 full-time private higher education institutions and 24 part-time institutes legally registered in Beijing’s city limits. None of the 70 listed were among them.

Taking a look at the websites of these unlisted schools, it becomes apparent that they have no legal basis to claim to be real universities. According to the report, more than 90 percent of the school sites claiming to be “the only official website,” were actually running multiple sites that recycled the same falsified content under several different domain names.

Photos of one real university, the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, were used as the face of three of the fake ones. Some other 20 schools lifted website content for their school introductions from real accredited universities as well.

While the gaokao is already a subject for controversy among educators and students, competition from graduates holding fake diplomas will likely add to the pressure that Chinese students already bear.