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College students weigh in on AI education and campus policies

By CHEN XUE | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-13 09:14
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Lei Jun, an NPC deputy and CEO of Xiaomi, proposed the integration of AI-related courses into China's nine-year compulsory education system during this year's two sessions, held from March 4 to 11. The question arises: do you agree with his suggestion?

In a special episode of China Daily's Youth Power, titled "Exploring the Two Sessions with Gen Z", college students are sharing their perspectives on motions, suggestions, and proposals raised in the two sessions.

Zhang Letian, a sophomore at Nanjing University (NJU) in Jiangsu province, stressed the importance of introducing children to AI at a young age to protect them from emerging threats like AI-powered scams. "Without adequate AI literacy, people would become vulnerable targets for fraudulent activities," he said.

However, Yang An, a doctoral student at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei, Anhui province, warned against overlooking AI's potential to disrupt job markets. "The automation of data collection may significantly reduce the demand for ordinary workers, potentially impacting their employment opportunities," he explained.

Ye Jiawen, a graduate student at NJU, also raised concerns about the challenges involved in implementing such courses. "From developing teaching materials to training teachers and procuring experimental equipment, it requires considerable resources, which might limit its nationwide promotion," she said.

Regarding the proposal on opening up university campuses and removing restrictions on public access, as submitted by Zhu Tongyu, a CPPCC member and vice president of Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, students also hold different opinions.

Li Xu from USTC welcomed the proposal, highlighting the significance of universities as hubs of intellectual and cultural exchange. "University campuses foster long-term interaction between students, faculty, and residents, nurturing a spirit of sharing," he said.

Li also emphasized the importance of an open campus environment for students' personal growth. "Students living in the ivory tower of universities may lack exposure to real-world experiences. A more open campus environment provides them with the opportunity to engage with society and better understand it."

Zeng Zheng, a sophomore at NJU, echoed support for an open campus but raised concerns about potential drawbacks. "Allowing prospective students to visit early can offer them a glimpse into university life. However, we must consider the impact on current students' academic and living conditions with an increased flow of people," he said.

Another proposal concerning college students, submitted by Liu Yonghao, a CPPCC member and chairman of leading agricultural company New Hope Group, suggests establishing special funds to encourage university students to return to their hometowns for employment and entrepreneurship.

Yang expressed optimism about the proposal, citing the challenges faced by students when traveling between big cities and their hometowns during peak seasons like Chinese New Year. "If we can find better job opportunities in our hometowns and have a good platform for starting businesses, wouldn't that alleviate this problem?" he said.

In contrast, Xu Chuanhe, a sophomore at NJU, expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of this proposal. Drawing from his experience of growing up in an economically underdeveloped area, Xu doubted that any incentive could persuade him to return to his hometown instead of staying in big cities like Nanjing.

"Rather than setting up special funds to support talents returning to their hometowns, it would be better to, for example, establish career advancement channels so that college graduates can envision their future trajectory, perhaps five or ten years down the line," he suggested.

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