Television network KBS reported Monday from Vietnam public anger is rising following revelations 108 students used their elite connections to gain entry into top schools.

A total of 53 students in the group have voluntarily dropped out following the charges, or have been expelled from their institutions, the report said, quoting local Vietnamese news sources.

All students accused of cheating in last year's June entrance exam hail from one of two provinces: Hoa Binh and Son La, both located in the northwest region of Vietnam, about 2-6 hours from Hanoi, the capital.

The students were enrolled at Vietnam's most prestigious schools: National Economics University, Foreign Trade University and Hanoi Medical University.

A total of 16 Vietnamese education administration officials who abetted the students have been arrested and were taken into custody.

The students were helped from the inside; students' answers and scores were saved to two separate CDs in Hoa Binh and Son La. One CD reportedly contained the students' responses, the second CD contained the scores, but the original data was tampered with before they were processed for final scoring, according to KBS.

The results were inflated test scores. Students' test grades rose by as much as 90 percent following the manipulation.

The charges come after parents at the high schools where the accused students were enrolled complained about "incredibly high scores" for "mediocre students" whose parents were local senior officials with people's committees in the region.

The Economist recently reported Vietnam has an outstanding state-school system for a developing country, but also has one of the fastest-growing private education sectors that encourage students to attend after-hours cram schools in preparation for tests.

The country spent about $9 billion for private education in 2018, according to The Economist.

By Elizabeth Shim - United Press International - April 22, 2019