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University of Hong Kong Probes Suspected Fraudulent Student Admissions

The University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) Business School is probing suspected fraudulent student submissions, according to an official statement.

On May 22, HKU Business School issued a statement titled “Upholding Academic Integrity”. “Regrettably, we have recently identified very few concerning cases involving the submission of fraudulent documents during the admissions process,” reads the statement. “We have also discovered that certain agencies have been involved in fabricating application materials. Those agencies claim to provide so-called ‘guaranteed admission’ services, seeking to gain unfair advantages for their clients by forging documents.”

The university has taken immediate action and is conducting a thorough investigation into the matter. Adding that they “unequivocally condemn any acts of dishonesty and reaffirm our zero-tolerance policy towards any form of academic misconduct.”

“In the event that any cases are confirmed, we will implement all necessary disciplinary and legal measures as mandated by the University and the law. This may include rescinding admission offers, nullifying enrolment, and referring cases to legal authorities. If any agencies are found to be complicit, we will cooperate with the relevant legal authorities to ensure they are held accountable,” the statement added.Alleged Emails from HKUThe issue first came to light at the beginning of May when posts appeared on the Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu. A Chinese netizen claimed that multiple master’s students admitted to HKU in September 2023 received emails from the university requesting them to provide diplomas and transcripts as proof of their qualifications.

Another post claimed that a master’s student was asked to provide proof of their bachelor’s degree after being suspected of plagiarism and other violations. The student, who failed to provide the required documents, prompted HKU to launch a broader investigation that could extend to other faculties.

The posts alleged that the investigation now includes up to 200 students who could face expulsion if they fail to submit the required documents. A screenshot of the email purportedly from HKU was also shared. It stated that the cutoff date to email proof of credentials was May 5. The Epoch Times was not able to independently verify the email.Chinese Websites Advertise ‘Guaranteed Admission’In February 2023, an article on Sohu, a Chinese portal website, advertised “guaranteed admission” to HKU’s postgraduate programs without background checks, promising easy admission to Hong Kong’s top eight universities.Related StoriesUniversity of Hong Kong Students Dispatched to Yan’an in Show of Loyalty8/31/2023University of Hong Kong Students Dispatched to Yan'an in Show of LoyaltyFake Diplomas a Mouse Click Away in China10/24/2013Fake Diplomas a Mouse Click Away in China

According to the article, students can make use of their institution’s contacts and resources to “obtain offers from their preferred universities” and “successfully complete the admission procedure.”

The article also claimed that students could be admitted with high scores, exempted from TOEFL and IELTS tests, and guaranteed 100 percent acceptance.

In response, HKU stated that such claims were completely unfounded.

“HKU reserves the right to pursue legal action against those involved,” reads a statement by the university.

“HKU does not commission any intermediary organisation to recruit or admit students on its behalf in the Mainland, nor does it have a so-called ‘internal promotion’ mechanism whereby professors recommend non-local students for admission.”

Hong Kong University (HKU) Business School issued a statement titled "Upholding Academic Integrity" on May 22 in response to the incident of Chinese students forging diploma. (Sun Qingtian/The Epoch Times)Hong Kong University (HKU) Business School issued a statement titled “Upholding Academic Integrity” on May 22 in response to the incident of Chinese students forging diploma. (Sun Qingtian/The Epoch Times)“If a student is found to have falsified his/her academic qualifications, he/she will be expelled from HKU in accordance with its regulations.”Fraudulent Qualifications Jump 70 PercentIn February, Hong Kong singer Lee Lung Kay’s fiancée, Chris Wong, who is from Foshan City of the southern Guangdong Province, was investigated for using fake academic credentials. The case was heard in court on April 16.

Ms. Wong moved to Hong Kong through a talent scheme, which is part of the Hong Kong authorities’ recent effort to attract talent. As of the end of March, about 110,000 people had come to Hong Kong under various talent schemes.

However, public concern has been raised over how many of these talents have obtained their qualifications in Hong Kong by using false academic qualifications.

In a recently published annual report by the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic & Vocational Qualifications, a total of 655 applications for academic qualifications assessment for the financial year 2022/23 were rejected, of which 22 applications involved false academic qualifications. The result marked a 70 percent jump from the 13 applications in the previous year.The Council indicated that it was not clear whether these cases involved talents or professionals from mainland ChinaMainland China’s Fake Diploma IndustryAccording to statistics by Lin Qiquan, a history professor at Xiamen University, fake diplomas have been common since the 1990s.

In 1996, Shenzhen saw the emergence of specialists in producing various fake certificates, with a doctoral degree priced at 2,000 yuan (about $281) and a bachelor’s degree at 500 yuan (about $70).

In 1998, Shenzhen police uncovered a fake diploma operation with 63,000 counterfeit certificates, including those from prestigious universities, priced between 100 and 2,000 yuan (about $14 to $281).

These operations are highly profitable. In 1999, a fake diploma scam in Nanjing earned over 1 million yuan ($140,000) within nine months, serving 1,000 to 2,000 customers.

Northern China also has similar operations.

According to Mr. Lin, fake diplomas from top universities like Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Renmin University are openly sold in Beijing’s Haidian District. Prices range from 500 yuan ($70) for a bachelor’s degree to 800 yuan ($112) for a doctorate.

A man jogs in front of the Wanliu campus of Peking University in Beijing on May 16, 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)A man jogs in front of the Wanliu campus of Peking University in Beijing on May 16, 2022. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)

In 1999, Nanjing uncovered a case of fake diploma fraud, in which the fraudsters had swindled over 1000,000 yuan (about $140,000) in just nine months just by peddling fake diplomas to 1,000 to 2,000 customers.

The Epoch Times searched on Google for “diploma production” and “fake diploma.” It yielded dozens of websites offering these services, including a fake diploma from the Open University of Hong Kong. These websites claim their fake diplomas are indistinguishable from the real ones.Widespread Counterfeiting CultureThe prevalence of fake documents in China is part of a broader culture of counterfeiting, as highlighted in The Epoch Times’ editorial “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,“ which describes the CCP’s characteristics as ”falsehood, evil, struggle.”

Counterfeiting is pervasive in China. In 2021, CCP state media, Legal Daily, acknowledged that any document, from birth certificates to death certificates, can be faked for just a few yuan (around $1) while selling for hundreds or thousands of yuan.

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