At University of South China, Lottery Determines Majors


For aspiring engineers at the University of South China, second-year students are assigned one of seven available majors through a raffle, and the University’s administrators have come under fire after the practice was revealed.

The university says it was an essential decision given some subjects’ popularity and the university’s inability to satisfy every student preference.

On September 8, hundreds of students gathered in a university auditorium to learn what they would major in through the luck of the draw. The engineering department, which counts 585 students, decided on the major choice of more than half of its students through lottery. The top performing 190 students were free to choose their own major.

Lu Qinghua, a university official, said:

“We were forced to take these measures. If choosing a major is solely based on students’ wants, some majors will be overcrowded and others will have difficulty enrolling enough students. There are some other colleges that use this method.”

Critics say that the practice is irresponsible and reveals lazy governance that discriminates against good and bad students. According to an official of the media department of the university, the practice has been taking place for some years now. A student that was assigned their major through lottery said to the Beijing Times:

“I think it is quite fair. Students are encouraged to study hard to gain the chance to freely choose majors. Even if we get a dissatisfying major after the lottery, we can exchange it with others.”

University officials said they’ve consulted students and staff on the lottery practice. Students can switch majors with one another as long as all courses have about the same number of enrolled students to ensure classes run smoothly.

The university has received mixed responses from the public through social media. Some argued the system keeps some students satisfied, while others point out that the school deprives students from their right to choose their own subjects.

“The college lacks a sense of responsibility. Students should enjoy the right to choose the majors they prefer, and the college should not sacrifice students’ chances of personal development for the sake of maintaining a balance among majors,” a student said according to Mid-Day.

Students who finish the second year of their course in the top 10% can apply to switch to a different major for the next year, the BBC says. The BBC site featured the public’s reactions to the news:

“This will offer no solution to the problem, only complaints about what others are studying!” one user writes on the Sina Weibo social network. Others think it’s a good idea. “In theory, students want to choose their own major, but school resources are limited,” one person writes. Another says that as long as students are willing, “what is fairer than this?”