Students banned to live off campus

Updated: 2007-07-07 16:38

China's Ministry of Education has banned university students from renting private accommodation during their studies, telling all students that they must share four to eight-person dormitories.

In a notice issued on Friday, the ministry instructed all universities to make the dormitories "another front for political and ideological education" in order to create a "good climate for the students' growth".

The ministry told the universities to strengthen the administration of dormitories, in what it says will ensure the safety of students and facilitate communication between them.

It also ruled that students sharing dormitories should be classmates with the aim of making it easier for teachers to monitor students' lifestyles outside the classroom.

Officials of Qinghua University, one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country, have promised to implement the new regulations.

But some students have voiced their discontent at having the freedom of choice taken away just two years after the government relaxed regulations on student accommodation which allowed the renting of private apartments off campus.

Zhang Ting, a student at Renmin University in Beijing, complained to the Beijing Morning Post about her university cutting the electricity too early every night. In most universities, the lights go out at 11:30 p.m. during the week.

"We know they just want us to have a good sleep but we need more time to study for various kinds of exams. Universities should be more flexible towards the administration of dorms," she said.

However, some of the students rent houses for privacy rather than study, particularly if they choose to live together with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Students say it will be difficult for the universities to prevent this practice.

Another Renmin University student, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one of her roommates never slept in the dormitory because she lived with her boyfriend in a rented apartment.

"But we have never reported her to our teachers since we are all adults," she added.
Others favour the more stable environment provided by campus accommodation. "I prefer living in a dormitory because it is safer and I enjoy living with other people," said Pi Xian, a third-year student from Nanjing University, who will live in a dormitory with six others next year.

"But I do think people should have the right to live off campus if they want to, as long as they realise they will have to shoulder responsibilities if any emergency happens," she said.

"I also think that if universities improved their student accommodation, then less people would want to live off campus," she added.

The regulations are most likely to affect students from a middle-class background. The cost of dormitory fees range from 500 to 1,200 yuan (66 U.S. dollars to 158 U.S. dollars) per year whereas renting private accommodation in a city like Beijing can cost around 1,500 yuan a month for a one-bedroom apartment.

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