CHINA. The government has begun a clean-up campaign on the rampant misuse of academic titles and privileges by officials trying to claim benefits to which they are not entitled.
In the new China, it is no longer Communist party loyalty that calls the shots. Academic titles, scholarship and personal wealth are what command respect, promotions and improved benefits.
A circular issued by the state education commission early this year says that titles such as "professor" and "senior researcher" are not be valid unless conferred on academic grounds by a recognised institution.
The false use of academic titles became widespread in recent years as the government began to promote staff with academic qualifications in a drive towards a more meritocratic system.
Previously, promotions were obtained through favour and personal connections, a system that has been open to abuse and resulted in an inefficient and poorly qualified state service sector.
Academic titles and professional qualifications are also linked to improved housing and medical benefits to encourage more qualified people to stay in government jobs.
The fraudulent use of titles takes scarce housing resources away from those who genuinely qualify.
According to the education commission, some officials were using the power of their government positions to "extort" titles and qualifications from institutions and even paid for them.
A strict limit on the number of titles awarded each year meant genuine scholars were shortchanged.
The education commission document says unqualified officials who obtained apartments, subsidies and salaries must stop receiving the benefits and leave their apartments.