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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 08:12, October 17, 2006
Do students need golf? Speech tees off debate
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Students on business courses at Xiamen University will be forced to get into the businessman's life with compulsory golf classes.

University President Zhu Chongshi has ignited controversy by announcing that some students will be required to learn how to drive, chip and putt as part of their studies.

Addressing a forum on co-operation and development at Shandong University in Jinan on Saturday, Zhu told staff from other universities: "In two months, a most beautiful driving range will open at the university."

He said that freshmen would be able to elect to take golf classes, but "students majoring in management, law, economics and software engineering will be required to take a course in golf."

In his speech, which was about education at an elite level, Zhu supported the unusual training by saying there was a need for "elite education" to help develop China's education system.

He said a bachelor's degree used to be respected regardless of the major, but today higher education has grown into an industry designed to fulfill market demand.

"It is as beneficial to society as compulsory education," said Zhu. "The highest embodiment of the education system is producing socially elite people with the best education."

Golf is not only good exercise, but will also teach students communication skills and benefit their future careers, said Zhu.

"Our university offers an elite education through a beautiful campus, an active cultural atmosphere, excellent professors and sound infrastructure," he said. "Providing the best facilities is also fundamental to helping students achieve their elite ambitions."

No one at the university's information office and software engineering department was willing to comment on the issue. Most said they knew little about the course.

Other educators disagreed with Zhu's premise.

Alex Jin, president of the CIE International Education Group, who himself plays golf, said: "I think China has a long way to go in places such as Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet to name a few that need investment in better primary health.

"To try to make golf a compulsory class in a college (under these conditions) is rather vulgar. With a per-capita income of about 1,700 yuan (US$212.50), China can ill afford courses in golf.

"If people who are fortunate enough to be rich want their sons and daughters to learn golf, there are other ways."

The speech also triggered debate on the Internet. At Sina.com, Zhu's supporters had a wide lead earlier in the day, but support for the golf classes had vanished by the evening.

"It is not bad for students to grasp another skill," one supporter wrote. "Golf, as a sport, is not much different from football or basketball. It is good for the university to keep up with the times."

Source: China Daily


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