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People with epilepsy barred from university

25 June, 2001

The Sunday Telegraph has reported on a decision by the Chinese education authorities to ban people with epilepsy from university.

The paper reports that teenagers whose legs differ in length by more than 2 inches or whose spine is curved by more than 1.5 inches will be excluded from a number of courses, anyone with colour blindness will be banned from sitting business administration courses, while anyone diagnosed with cancer, epilepsy, high blood pressure or "mental disorders" will be prevented from attending university altogether.

Officials have admitted that the new rules are designed to prevent "the disabled" from "clogging up" the country's universities. There are only enough university places for 5 per cent of the student population, although 20 per cent apply.

"These days, no college is willing to take a disabled student," one university head told a Chinese newspaper. He said that allowing one disabled student in "only encourages more to apply".

"Once a college gets one, the media will publicise it, and then there will be more disabled students applying next year," he said. "Of course, the school should bear certain social responsibilities, but it's not a welfare organisation."

The Sunday Telegraph reported that even employees of the Chinese Disabled Persons' Federation concede that such viewpoints are understandable. One official said: "Universities have little experience in dealing with the disabled and hence have worries about educating them". However, other groups in the country are labelling next month, the traditional month for sitting university entrance exams, as 'Black July'.