I've seen this happen enough times to start wondering.
For example, take the name "Ting Chao Chung", a Chinese-American Nobel laureate. Ting (丁) is the last name, and "Chao Chung" (肇中, which is two characters in Chinese) is the given name. But if he were to enrol as an undergraduate in a Western university, his student card would read something like "C. Ting" instead of C. C. Ting, leaving his name incomplete. I know one pair of twins who ended up with the same name on their student card this way. Their names are different, but if you throw away the second character, then the names become the same.
Why do Western universities seem to struggle with parsing Chinese names? The Chinese students that I've asked have generally said that the university refuses to use the right name (although the name on their degrees look correct), which doesn't make sense to me.