According to Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post, Cai Wei finished his formal education 18 years ago when he obtained a high school diploma. He did not succeed in his college entrance examinations, so he went to work in a factory in his hometown of Jinzhou, Liaoning Province. He was laid off in 1994.
Cai then became a roadside peddler and moonlighted as the driver of a three-wheeled bicycle after his wife fell ill in 2007. In the meantime, he studied ancient documents on his own time and published articles in online forums.
Cai, who is now 38 years old, was also in correspondence with Fudan professor Qiu Xigun, a prominent academic in the field of ancient documents. Qiu was impressed with Cai’s knowledge and even made adjustments to his own work based on suggestions that Cai made.
Fudan University introduced admissions changes this year to give professors more leeway to pick their own PhD candidates. Previously, only those who had obtained a master’s degree were qualified to apply. In Cai’s case, he was recommended by three professors, including Qiu, and was admitted without a qualifying exam.
Danwei reports according to the university administration, in consideration for his academic background, Cai will not be asked to study English. However, he will be required to study Japanese, the language in which much of the literature in the field was originally written.