Thousands of outraged students protested because their expensive private college was associated with another of lower status. Reflecting negatively on the job acceptance and prestige of the professional degree from their college.

The events occurred at the Zhongbei private college, affiliated with Nanjing Normal University. Nanjing is a city in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, where 400 police in riot gear were deployed, Radio Free Asia reported on June 8. 

Police cracked down on the students using batons and pepper spray. Some photos showed a woman bleeding from a head wound.

“We were not arrested. According to Hong Kong Free Press, the school hired auxiliary police who injured, beat, pepper-sprayed, threatened and verbally abused students,” said a Beizhong student. 

The following video clip shows part of the police aggression against the protesting students. In addition, the principal of the university was held for 30 hours by the students. 

The plan of the university authorities called for Zhongbei College to merge with a vocational school, which would have rebranded and diminished the prestige in students’ eventual degree certificates.

For Chinese students, competition is fierce, so their families sacrifice for years for them to obtain a valuable private college education and diploma.  

By the country’s economic standards, it is costly to attend these schools. Therefore, the sudden change that diminishes the prestige and value of the diploma to be received is a hard blow to the students and frustrates all their sacrifices. 

“It thoroughly deceives and conceals the truth from students. That’s why students spontaneously organized. Zhongbei College fees are really expensive, around 17,000 yuan a year … who would spend that much on a vocational college?” one student explained

Retired Shanghai teacher Gu Guoping interpreted the students’ protest and showed understanding. 

“Vocational schools have a lower rank than these colleges. Are they now going to be awarded college degrees or vocational degrees?” questioned Gu.

Similarly, another retired professor surnamed Sun, from the northeastern city of Harbin, commented that the violent police raid perhaps expressed their fear that students from other universities would join the claims. 

“They are using violence to crack down on people standing up for their rights.Because if they didn’t, this is only going to get bigger and bigger. But [the authorities] caused the conflict in the first place, so it’s their fault,” Sun said, according to Radio Free Asia. 

Similar protests broke out at Nantong University-linked Xinglin College, Jiangsu, and at Zhijiang College of the Zhejiang University of Technology.

Despite university authorities saying that the proposed merger of the two entities had been withdrawn, signs stating the reasons for the protests persisted. 

These riots in mainland China mark the strength of student grievances once again, which could become an unstoppable power that will shake and perhaps collapse the CCP’s decades-long repression of its people.