Chinese university suspends student offer over social credit mark

Father’s failure to pay back loan hits son’s university admission, under state’s big-data system

July 17, 2018
Surveillance

A Chinese university suspended a student’s offer of admission because of his father’s low score on the government’s social credit system, according to reports.

The father’s low score was because of an old bank debt, the website of the state-run broadcaster CGTN reported.

China’s social credit system is “a series of big data and AI-enabled processes that effectively grant subjects a social credit score based on their social, political and economic behaviour,” The Guardian has previously reported. Those with low scores can be prevented from accessing services including flights and train travel.

“The student from east China’s Zhejiang Province, identified by his surname Rao, received a call for a Beijing-based university that he had applied to, informing him that he might not be able to complete his enrolment because of his father’s low score on the country’s social credit system,” CGTN reported.

The father had been taken to court for defaulting on a loan in May 2016, but was still unable to repay and his “social credit score moved down as a result”.

“But it seems that Rao is paying the price of his father’s mistake,” CGTN said. “The university suspended its offer to the student, prompting the father to finally clear his debt in an attempt to allow his son to continue his tertiary education.

“The judge is reportedly working on removing Rao’s father from the list, now that he assumed his responsibilities.”

The What’s On Weibo blog – which looks at trends on the social media site – said that the story had been widely reported by Chinese media and widely commented on by social media users.

One of the most popular comments said: “If it is OK to treat those who are associated with an offender as guilty, then it’s time to punish the sons and daughters of corrupt officials, too.”

An individual from the China Law Translate blog had been able to “track Rao down in the public blacklist”, finding that the institution involved “which has not been named in Chinese media, is most probably a private academy”, What’s On Weibo said.

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

I guess 'Private university suspends student application due to financial credit risk' would be a far less juicy headline.

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