A southeast China university looks set to become the latest battlefield of a national debate as it demands some of its freshmen learn to play golf.
Xiamen University in Xiamen, a coastal city in Fujian Province, has established a new golf practice ground, which will host classes as part of the compulsory curriculum in two months, said Zhu Chongshi, president of the university.
He told a forum on collegiate cooperation and development in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, that students majoring in business management, law, economics and computer software would be required to take golf as a compulsory course.
Zhu, one of many in China to claim that golf is now a common business activity and an access route to those with power and influence, argued that golf was an important part of "elite" training, which in his eyes, represents "the perfect embodiment of higher education for public good." But opponents argue that "elitism" is not a commodity that accompanies power, wealth and golf skills.
Xiamen University has followed the example set by Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, which became the first college in Shanghai to offer golf lessons for its freshmen.
"The aim is to help the students find good jobs in the future," said Prof. Chen Xiao of the sports teaching sector of the university. "After graduating, our students will have more opportunities to contact business people. Many Chinese business deals are clinched on golf courses."
In late August, prestigious Peking University revealed that a golf practice area would be laid out on campus. The venue, 90 meters long and 40 meters wide, would allow 30 students to train simultaneously and 100 to practice each day, according to a university sports teacher.
Some students at the university reacted on the Internet, commenting that golf is a sport for today's "aristocrats" and is inappropriate for students. However, supporters stressed that the sport is conducive to joining social activities.
It has been reported that Shanghai University, Shanghai Fishery University, Shanghai Electric Power College and Shanghai Financial College have expressed their intentions to follow suit in offering golf lessons.
(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2006)