Two of China's most prestigious universities, Tsinghua University and Peking University, have found themselves tangled in an ugly social media spat, that has left both top-tier institutions looking less than their best.
Two universities that most Chinese high school graduates dream of entering seem to have created a nightmare situation.
Tsinghua and Peking universities have been waging an online war against each other for the past week.
It started when Peking University's recruitment team in Sichuan province took to Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblogging site, accusing Tsinghua's recruiters of "luring students to Tsinghua with money".
PKU also implied that Tsinghua had broken its promises to prospective students several times in the past five years.
Tsinghua's Sichuan recruiter responded by re-posting the message and claiming that PKU was the one that was attempting to "buy" students with money.
PKU later said Tsinghua paid students to enroll and insisted Peking did not take money for admissions.
The mud-slinging was quickly circulated and drew thousands of comments, climbing to the Chinese web's top trending topics.
The plot thickened even more after pictures went viral, showing a student from Guangzhou being cornered by admissions officers from both universities.
So why has the college admissions process become so heated?
"Every Chinese university wants to enroll more high score students to make sure their enrollment score is higher than other schools. Who gets the most high-scorers wins top ranking among domestic universities. That's why admissions staffs scold each other if they steal their students," said Xiong Bingqi, vice-dean of 21st Century Education Research Institute.
Xiong noted that China's current college admissions system only offers one method for schools to evaluate and choose their students: exam scores.
But recruitment teams usually phone top-performing students before final exam scores are even released, offering them campus tours, inquiring about their desired programs and encouraging them to choose their university.
"Admissions officers are considered to have failed at their jobs if they can't recruit enough high scorers," said Chu Zhaohui, researcher with National Institute Of Education Sciences.
The ultimate winners from this intense battle between universities may be the students. The top score on the Gaokao college entrance exam from the city of Chongqing belong to Liu Nanfeng. He was traveling when he received a call from PKU's recruitment team.
They offered him admission and to sweeten the deal, a private car to drive him back to home when he finished his tour.
That says Liu, was the moment he understands "what the word 'flattery' really means."
Source - english.cntv.cn