Officials from a university in Northeast China are under investigation for an MBA admission exam fraud scandal, which local police have classified as a fraud case involving the illegal acquisition of State secrets.
The MBA center of the Harbin University of Science and Technology, in the capital of Heilongjiang Province, cooperated with a Beijing-based training institution to aid exam cheats participating in the nationwide graduate student entrance exam on the university campus, through the use of electronic devices.
In the nationwide graduate student entrance exam, held from January 4 to 6, 223 candidates in Heilongjiang were found to have cheated, including 123 people who used communication devices.
A special working group led by the Heilongjiang provincial education department entered the university Monday evening, and talked with seven people involved in the scandal, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Two university officials have been suspended for investigations - a director of the MBA center and a deputy head of the university's Graduate School, Xinhua reported.
A China Central Television report said that the training center had already been cooperating with the university for over four months before the exam. Teachers from the university went to the training center to help recruit students.
Recruitment for the university's MBA center for 2015 has also been suspended, according to the provincial recruitment and exam authorities.
The Ministry of Education said Sunday that it has sent a working team to supervise the investigation, and the test results of the cheating candidates have been canceled. They are also being banned from taking part in further exams for one to three years.
"There is no timetable for the outcome of the investigation but we will keep a close eye on it," said an official with the news office of the ministry.
In a statement, the Heilongjiang provincial police said they had opened an investigation into the crime of illegally obtaining State secrets.
Professor Hong Daode with the China University of Political Science and Law said the crime is very serious. "The content of the test is confidential. We are now sure the answers were compromised during the exam and it is therefore an issue of national confidentiality."
Professor Hong Daode says the organizers of the exam can be held as conspirators since they were working as staff of a State organization.
Zhao Hong, a vice president of the university, admitted to The Beijing News that the university was accountable for management responsibilities. "Rules were not strictly implemented in some exam rooms," said Zhao, "Those held accountable in the scandal will be dealt with seriously."
According to Professor Hong, huge profit is the ultimate motivation of the criminals to take the risk. "With advances in the technology, they thought they had a better chance of getting away with it," said Hong.