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Exam cheats could face prison terms
2005-09-09 00:42:42 

BEIJING, Sept. 9-- A recently published draft version of the country's first educational exam law has triggered strong controversy among local scholars, university officials and students, many of whom say it is unnecessary to treat cheating as a criminal offense.

  The draft version of the National Educational Exam Law was put together by law professors at Chongqing University and made public over the weekend.

It states that cheating on exams, especially organized, large-scale cheating on nationwide test, is against the law and cheaters should be punished by criminal courts.It doesn't stipulate a maximum penalty, however.

Currently, cheaters are punished by their schools, and generally just receive a grade of zero on the exam.

The draft law, which was made public to encourage public feedback, is one of four key educational laws the country is scheduled to draft over the next five years.

Legal experts said it will take a couple of years before the law will go into effect.

Complaints have already arisen, however, with many people saying criminal punishment is too severe for cheaters.

Xiong bingqi, a public relations official with Jiao Tong University, said that it isn't necessary to draft a special law to punish exam cheats.

"Many existing education laws, as well as individual school's student regulations, already cover the exam cheating issue and make the punishment clear for both exam organizers and takers," said Xiong.

Some universities in China immediately expel anyone caught cheating on an exam, but most simply give the students a warning and a grade of zero on the test.

National exams, such as the College English Test and postgraduate admission test, are treated more severely under current rules, however, and anyone found leaking exam questions can be jailed on a charge of leaking national secrets.

"The reason cheating is still rampant is that the regulations are not fully implemented, rather than the lack of related regulations or severe punishments," Xiong said.

Gu jun, a sociology professor at Shanghai University, also said that a specialized law would only add to the importance attached to exams, which are already overstressed in the country.Besides, cheating is more likely to be a personal moral problem rather than crime, students said.

"It's totally a personal problem if a student failed to master enough knowledge and cheated on an exam. That usually won't bring harm to the public or social order," said Zhou Fei, a second-year student at Shanghai Normal University.

(Source: Shanghai Daily news)

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