A central China university has caused controversy by making its students pick their majors through a lottery system.
The auditorium at the University of South China in Hunan Province was especially crowded the evening of September 8, when hundreds of students queued to pick their majors through luck of the draw.
Second-year students from the department of civil engineering under the urban planning school are required to focus on one of the department's seven majors.
Lu Qinghua, an official with the school, said, "We were forced to take these measures. If choosing a major is solely based on students' wants, some majors will be overcrowded and others will have difficulty enrolling enough students. There are some other colleges that use this method."
Lu added that not all of the department's 585 students must rely on luck. The top 190 students in the department may choose their majors freely. Students who draw through the lottery still have a chance to switch with another student before their majors are finally set.
Critics say the university's methods are a sign of lazy governance.
"The college lacks a sense of responsibility. Students should enjoy the right to choose the majors they prefer, and the college should not sacrifice students' chances of personal development for the sake of maintaining a balance among majors," said Internet user "Jingshuishenliu" on news portal Sohu.com.
Si Hanhan, a writer for news portal gmw.cn, said that instead of deciding majors in such an "irresponsible" way, universities should readjust the majors offered and eliminate those that don't meet the needs of the job market, as well as offer more guidance to students when choosing their majors.
Si also said that the school's policy of allowing the top 190 students to choose their own majors is an act of "discrimination."
An official surnamed Su with the publicity department of the university said the policy has been in place for years and the school had also sought advice from instructors and students twice in the past.
"After one year of study, students whose performance is in the top 10 percent can apply to change majors," she said.
A student who had just drawn a major told newspaper Beijing Times, "I think it is quite fair. Students are encouraged to study hard to gain the chance to freely choose majors. Even if we get a dissatisfying major after the lottery, we can exchange it with others."
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