Because educational attainment is considered a measure of merit, officials scramble to obtain advanced degrees in order to gain an advantage in the competition for power.
The overwhelming majority of these officials end up receiving doctorates (a master’s degree won’t do anymore in this political arms race) granted through part-time programs or in the Communist Party’s training schools. Of the 250 members of provincial Communist Party standing committees, an elite group including party chiefs and governors, 60 claim to have earned PhDs.
Tellingly, only ten of them completed their doctoral studies before becoming government officials. The rest received their doctorates (mostly in economics, management, law, and industrial engineering) through part-time programs while performing their duties as busy government officials. One managed to complete his degree in a mere 21 months, an improbable feat, given that course work alone, without the dissertation, normally requires at least two years in most countries’ doctoral programs. If so many senior Chinese officials openly flaunt fraudulent or dubious academic degrees without consequences, one can imagine how widespread other forms of corruption must be.
Thursday, May 17, 2012