Recently in China, multiple incidents have occurred in which students reported on university and college faculty members after which these faculty members were dismissed. The students who report on their teachers are called “academic informants.” In Chinese universities, an institution exists in which some students are designated to serve as informants. They report to the school authorities on a regular basis. Student informants are the eyes and ears of the school’s party and political authorities and are also a part of the ideological and political work team.
According to the Wuhan University of Science and Technology’s (WUST), “Administrative Measures for Student Academic Informants at Wuhan University of Science and Technology” were published on its official website in October 2018. Student informants are generally students with an excellent academic performance. Their duties include: “to collect and organize a wide range of teaching and management related information”; “to report promptly on the students’ opinions and suggestions about the teachers’ teaching attitude, content, methods, and quality of teaching, homework grading, and extracurricular tutoring.” The student informants fill out the teaching information feedback form once every two weeks. The Administrative Measures also require that the school be responsible for the confidentiality of students who report teaching information. In addition, the school will issue a certain amount of remuneration each semester based on the informant’s performance.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Song Yongyi, a scholar living in exile in the United States and a staff member at California State University, Los Angeles, said that the student informant has always been a tool for controlling colleges and universities.
“That is the spy culture of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In order to control colleges and universities, the CCP often directly develops spies among students. There is now a large-scale use of student informants because in the past, the party organizations in universities and schools were very obedient. If they hear some remarks, they will report immediately. Today, the party organizations in colleges and universities are not so obedient, so the CCP trains agents to be informants.”
Source: Radio Free Asia, April 5, 2019