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Breaking the contract: could the university prevent me from leaving the campus?


helvetus

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Hi to all,

I am currently teaching French in an University in central China. My contract should end in June 2009 but for some solid reasons I have to break it. I've heard that in this situation it is better to do a "midnight runner" so that is what I plan to do. I've already bought my return ticket to come back to my country (France) for next week.

The problem is that the building for foreign teachers is located far away inside the campus. There is an old guy controlling the building who is living here ( they even have cameras inside and outside).Moreover near the building there are always some guards who are controlling the area. I was just wondering if I could have problems when I will leave as my luggage would be the proof of my departure. Could they stop me at the last moment and make me miss my plane? And could I get some trouble at the passport control at Beijing airport?

I am sorry if those questions seem ridiculous but I just want to be cautious. The chairman of this university is the brother of the city mayor so they have obviously a lot of "Guanxi".

Thanks for your attention.

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Thanks Imron but my question is not on the validity or the morality of my reasons to leave. I don't trust this university anymore so I won't tell them my decision as I am pretty sure that it would turn against me.

I just want to know if the university can prevent me from leaving the campus when I will do my "midnight run". I would be very grateful to get answers on that point only.

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Intuitively, I would say it's quite immoral. I don't know what your reasons are, but even if you dislike the staff/management, you should keep your students in mind. They're going to think you're an arse for suddenly disappearing and probably get the idea that western people are unreliable in general (many Chinese don't ever make personal contact with foreigners other than their foreign teacher).

From a practical point of view, Chinese Universities are usually pretty gated up, especially in the evening. I don't know about yours, but when I was studying up in Xi'an, they close all but the main gate something like 11 or 11.30 (can't really remember). We followed the local students and climbed over the other gates when getting back late (going to the main gate would be about 20 minutes more), but I can't for everything in the world imagine climbing over those gates with big suitcases... Moreover, I think they have cameras, so they might come around and check up on suspicious things (i.e., anything other than students climbing over the gate). Anyway, you'd probably have to leave through the main gate, where you might be questioned if you look suspicious. I can't imagine the guard guy would care that much though... they're usually pretty bored and don't do much. I would think they're there mainly to prevent suspicious people from coming in, and possibly Chinese undergraduates from leaving.

If you're really worried about it, I would personally book my flight on a Friday and say that you're going to see some great tourist sight in another town over the weekend. Unless you have a vast amount of luggage, that would explain your bag and as well as being away for a few days. No one would miss you until Monday, when you'd already be out of the country.

Alternatively, you could probably bring out your luggage piece by piece and keep them at some luggage storage facility (plenty of those around the train station). I would imagine there is a lot of people walking about in the day and no one would take notice of someone leaving with a medium sized bag during the day.

Anyway, I still think it's immoral.

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I just want to know if the university can prevent me from leaving the campus

And how are we supposed to know the answer to that? Yes, I guess theoretically the guard could report you to the heavies and have you bundled up. And since the chairman of your uni is the brother of the city mayor, he could probably arrange two or three years of jail time for you also.

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Well thanks so much for your very useful feedback anonymoose. I was naively thinking that a forum is a place to ask questions and potentially receive useful answers from the people who may know the answers. Unfortunately, there are always people like you prefering to flame for the pleasure of flaming.

Well, I hope I gave you at least some pleasure doing it.

A silly French teach who asks silly questions in his crappy English

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Why not just try it out with an empty trolly? Just see their reaction. I doubt there will be any since security guards in general are more on the moron personality side.

Then cross a few times with the trolly and on your final departure you won't be bothered.

Now, if you have more then one trolly I suggest you bring out stuff bit by bit and store it somewhere, or mail it home first. Or simply dump it.

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I hope I gave you at least some pleasure

Yes, thank you.

potentially receive useful answers from the people who may know the answers

Like I said before, how are we supposed to know the answer? What kind of response were you expecting? You haven't even said where you are, or why you're leaving.

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Count me with the crowd that considers it immoral to walk away like this. The school might be a disaster, but even so you should give them the sort of notice you'd give a western employer.

Pulling a stunt like leaving in the middle of the night is only going to cause problems for the next person to stumble by that neck of the woods. And if you think you're in personal danger staying, why are you worried about moving a bunch of stuff anyway? Get it out in advance and take off in the afternoon.

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Haha it reminds me of one of those things you read in guidebooks like, it's really bad if you don't bargain hard and aggressively because it means the locals will think it's okay to rip off the next foreigner that comes along...

... frankly, I wouldn't worry about that side of things.

The only useful thing I can say is that -- several years ago -- a friend teaching english at a university had to rush home during term time for a family emergency .... he informed the university, and planned to come back after a couple weeks (which he did) but he said he had big difficulty going through emmigration control at beijing airport because his documents were out of order. So be prepared for that possibility.

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I doubt you'll have any trouble. Why would the guards at the gate care what suitcases the foreign teacher carries off campus? I wouldn't make it a literally midnight runner, the gates may well be closed, and that would be a hassle, at least. Best just walk out in clear daylight. If you're worried about too much luggage being suspicious, store some elsewhere in advance.

It doesn't sound like the best thing to do to your students, but I don't know what situation you're in.

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