Chinese university draws controversy after sending students’ grade reports to parents

Society & Culture

Shenzhen University in Guangdong Province has found itself embroiled by controversies around its decision to mail detailed transcripts directly to parents without informing the students.

As reported (in Chinese) by Shenzhen Evening News, the issue came to light when a group of anonymous students filed a complaint on WeChat in late October. They claimed that it totally caught them off guard when their parents received packages mailed by the school at the end of the semester, which included detailed reports about their academic performance, explanations about grading, and instructors’ contact information. They told the newspaper that they were asked by the college to provide their home addresses for “security purposes,” but it apparently didn’t turn out the way they expected.

“I saw my roommate having a hard time explaining her grades to her mom. I’m a bit nervous now,” a student said on social media while anxiously waiting for her package to arrive. “I wonder if I will receive a call from my dad tonight.”

Also included in the package is a letter penned by the school’s College of Life Sciences and Oceanography, which says that the move is meant to “strengthen the communication between parents and the college, let parents be aware of how their children perform at school, and help students with their individual development.”

While it was later revealed that the policy was not school-wide, the decision sparked heated debate online, with varied reactions from internet users. On one hand, many people argue that if parents are paying for the education, they are entitled to be informed of how their children are doing at school, despite the fact that these children are college students. On the other hand, some netizens, especially young people, assert that what the university did is an invasion of students’ privacy. “I’m happy to discuss my grades with my parents if they are keen to know. But I would feel offended if my school sends transcripts to my parents without my permission,” a Weibo user commented.

In fact, it’s not a novel practice for Shenzhen University to mail grade reports to students’ parents. It’s reported that in 2009, Wuhan University of Science and Technology sent grade letters to parents of 13,000 students during the Spring Festiva. Other schools like Sun Yat-sen University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, and Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics also have carried out similar policies