With an increasing number of students enrolled in China's postgraduate programs, the Ministry of Education is requiring universities with advanced degree programs to strengthen their supervision over students to improve the quality of the nation's overall postgraduate education system.
Universities should scrutinize every step of graduate research and academic paper writing－from choosing topics to defense of dissertations－said a guideline issued recently by the ministry and the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council, the country's Cabinet.
They should also establish a selection system midway through postgraduate studies to weed out students unfit for advanced research, the guideline said.
Universities should provide compulsory thesis writing courses and strengthen education on academic integrity and work ethic, it added.
The guideline also asked education authorities and universities to increase the percentage of students subject to random dissertation inspections and postgraduate students found to have irregularities in their dissertations will be recorded in the national social credit system, the guideline said.
More universities have expelled graduate students who fail to obtain degrees within maximum allotted time frames.
Shenyang Agricultural University said earlier this month that it had expelled 236 graduate students in three batches over the past five years for exceeding time limits－five years for master's degrees and seven years for doctorates.
Xidian University in Xi'an, Shaanxi province announced in August that it expelled 33 doctoral candidates and Shanghai Normal University expelled 126 graduate students in June.
The ministry has also asked universities to impose higher requirements on supervisors of postgraduate students.
A code of conduct for supervisors issued by the ministry last month set the "bottom line" and "basic requirements" for supervisor behavior, forbidding them to have inappropriate relationships with students or ask students to perform tasks unrelated to their academic study.
Based on the seriousness of their behavior, violators of the code of conduct may be disqualified from supervising students or have teaching credentials revoked, the ministry said.
There are more than 3 million Chinese students pursuing postgraduate studies this year and 460,000 supervisors for these students.