Chinese college students eligible for marriage could soon be allowed to tie the knot under a new management rule.
At present, students of legal marriageable age -- 22 for men, 20 for women -- are prohibited by colleges from wedlock, running in contrast with the nation's Marriage Law.
However, Qu Zhenyuan, an official from the Ministry of Education, recently said the formulation of a new management rule for Chinese institutions of higher learning is underway, in which colleges will be allowed to decide by themselves whether to give the green light to student couples who want to marry.
The current management provision was issued in 1990 by the then State Education Commission, banning such nuptial rites.
But legal professionals complain the present rule takes away the right to marry at the legal age, which must be protected. They argue the 1980-issued Marriage Law and its newly-passed revision stipulate that no organizations or individuals are allowed to interfere in people's right to marry or to raise age limits at random.
In contrast, the current management rule implemented by all Chinese colleges reads that students, once married, must quit school and have no right to resume their studies in the future.
Yet, Yang Deguang, principal of Shanghai Teachers University, argues the current management rule enacted in colleges does not conflict with students' rights.
Although some university upperclassmen are old enough to request a marriage application, most of them are unprepared emotionally and financially for starting a family, Yang said. Marriage and childbearing are distractions and would disturb the normal order of schools.
Zheng Xiaomin, father of a college student, welcomed the schools' restriction because he believes marriage of college students will lead to a higher risk of divorce.
College student Guo Jie at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication said: "Students' rights in marriage should be protected in line with the law."
However, he added he would not think about getting married while in college because of the pressure from his studies and the worry about finding a job after graduation.
A survey conducted in central China's Wuhan, of Hubei Province, revealed half of the city's college students prefer to postpone marriage for at least five years after graduation; less than one-third of those students questioned said they would marry within three to five years after leaving college.
According to Chen Zhongkui, a teacher with the Beijing University of Science and Technology, problems started when the Ministry of Education cancelled limits on age and marital status of those who sit for college entrance examinations in China.
He said more people will benefit from the loosened requirements and have access to higher education. "The debate on college students' marriage right is just one of those problems China has faced or may encounter in its gradual reform of higher education," he said.
(China Daily December 24, 2001)