Life at a Chinese University

There is an interesting video that has emerged on Youku.com (described as the Chinese Youtube).  It is a creative piece crafted by students at the Shanghai Theatre Academy China
I have translated the first few minutes below: 

What is university?
Messing around
Making trouble
Pursuing oneís dreams
Losing faith
Finding quick success
Return empty handed

What is university?
To me, university is boring, uninteresting, clueless, dejected, helpless, and full of meaningless moaning and groaning with nothing to do. 

Itís using our parents money to buy all sorts of useless things, all sorts of junk food, doing all sorts of things without achieving any result.
Itís like Jiao Yulu, anxious, gloomy, and with nothing to do.  You choose a school, choose a major, choose a roommate, a bunk, a Japanese laptop, a second hand bike, choose two delivery [restaurant] numbers, posters for movies youíve never seen to be hung on your wall, choose a sport, coffee, soda, gum, cigarettes, a lighter, beer, USB, MP3, a mobile phone, and choose a few friends to choose with.

The story goes on to discuss four studentsí views on university as they near graduation.  Their comments indicate that many in the group spent their four years as undergraduate students playing video games, smoking, drinking and simply hanging out.  The one in the group who was seen as a model student ends the same as the others: frustrated and without a job. 

Obviously, this is a caricature of university life, but how accurate is it?  Anecdotal evidence suggests that is it not far from the truth.  Sleeping or skipping class is prevalent.  Many play sports and drink, only cramming the day before exams.  Dorm life is dominated by online gaming and chatting.  For most, it is a welcomed break from the rigors of their high school education. 

Some attribute this to the education style.  Chinese tertiary education is primarily lecture based.  Relative to what one might find in an American college campus, Chinese students are fairly passive in the course of their education.  However, I would also point to the policy of expanded admissions (kuo zhao) in China.  In order to limit the massive number of graduates emerging into the work force, undergraduate and graduate programs have expanded the number of students admitted every year. 

The problem for universities is that they do not have the resources to support such a growing student body.  With fewer resources and attention paid to individual students, the quality of education suffers.  This has led to stories circulating about graduate classes larger than undergraduate classes, as well as blatant attempts at plagiarism (i.e. when a PhD candidate copied another dissertation, changing only the writerís name and location). 

This video is simply one expression of it. 
Mar 5, 2010 2:28:53 AM