PARIS: The president of a French university was suspended yesterday for allegedly obstructing a probe into claims that corrupt academics sold degrees to hundreds of Chinese students.
Higher Education Minister Valerie Pecresse ordered the probe in April after reports said Sud Toulon Var university was enrolling Chinese students with an inadequate level of French and dishing out qualifications for money.
Yesterday, the education ministry said university president Laroussi Oueslati and his two deputies had been suspended for hampering the inquiry and harassing staff who tried to speak out.
It also found Oueslati's team had seized documents, suggesting an attempt to destroy evidence.
Press reports that exposed the alleged diploma fraud claimed the system was common in other French universities.
The number of Chinese students in France exploded from only 2,000 in 1999 to 22,452 in 2007, making them the second biggest foreign student population in the country behind Moroccans.