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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
China acts against student cheats
Graduates in China
There is huge pressure on Chinese students to succeed
Millions of Chinese students taking university entrance exams this week are being tested for their honesty as well as their academic prowess.

All 7.2 million applicants have been asked to sign a pledge promising not to cheat in the exams, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.

Some test centres have even installed video cameras to check on potential violators of the national education authority's strict rules.

There is huge pressure on Chinese students to succeed in these exams, if they want to secure good jobs in China's increasingly market-driven economy.

The importance of the tests has fuelled a rise in attempts to buy questions or hire substitutes to take the exams.

Last week a Beijing university official and two employees of a private school were jailed for leaking questions on a national English test.

Last year, two teachers in the north-western province of Shaanxi were fired after taking money from students to call their mobile phones during the exam and give them the answers.

Anyone violating the anti-cheating rules this year will have their scores immediately annulled, according to regulations issued by the Ministry of Education last month.

The authorities will also keep a file of information on cheaters, which will be open to public scrutiny.

The university entrance exams are being held one month earlier than last year to avoid the July heat.

For the first time, the majority of students taking the exams are from rural areas, reflecting efforts to raise education standards in China's poorer countryside areas.

"The change implies that the educational development between urban and rural China is becoming more balanced," said Wang Chunguang, an education researcher quoted by the official Xinhua news agency.

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