The Ministry of Education is taking what it calls the necessary step of listing the types of prohibited immoral or unprofessional conduct relating to college and university teachers.
In a notice released on Oct 9, the ministry described seven types of prohibited conduct, including taking bribes, sexually harassing students and having improper relationships with students.
The notice was released after the Chinese media exposed several scandals involving university professors.
In July, two female students accused Wu Chunming, a history professor at Xiamen University in Fujian province, of seducing and sexually assaulting them - and other students. Reports on the accusations went viral and triggered heated online discussions.
Wu was suspended and the university vowed to investigate the claims, but no findings have been released.
Last November, a former student accused Wang Zhengmin, a professor at the Eye and ENT Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, of profiting from plagiarism.
According to the notice released on Oct 9, those who violate the regulations face such consequences as: a caution, a demerit point on their employment record, demotion, suspension, termination or the possibility of being handed over to public security or judicial authorities, depending on the severity of their violations.
The notice said colleges and universities are responsible for supervising the behavior of teachers and ensuring that they abide by professional ethics. University deans who do not handle cases involving immoral conduct in a transparent and timely manner will face disciplinary action.
The Education Ministry said it released the notice because a small number of university professors have harmed the image and reputation of educators due to their immoral conduct. The notice is also meant to guide the educators, it said.
The ministry added that the regulations echo the requirements President Xi Jinping issued for academic staff when he visited Beijing Normal University in September.
The president said the educators should encourage faith and belief, have good standards and a solid base of knowledge, and be kind to students.
Gu Mingyuan, the honorary chairman of the Chinese Society of Education, said the release of the notice is timely and important.
“University teachers are the highest-level intellectuals in society. They are tutors for our youth and guides of the general mood of society,” said Gu. “The ethics of university teachers have a great impact on students, the quality of education, and even on the ethics of the whole of society.”
Seven types of prohibited conduct concerning university lecturers:
Harming the interests of the nation, the university or the students.
Making comments or committing acts that are against the Party’s principles and policies.
Committing acts of academic dishonesty such as plagiarizing or copying the work of another person, or misusing research funds or academic resources.
Holding part-time jobs off-campus that affect teaching duties on campus.
Irregular conduct concerning recruitment, examinations, student rewards and postgraduate recommendations.
Taking bribes from students or parents.
Sexually harassing students or having improper relationships with students.