University plans course on tree climbing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2012, 12:00am


A top university plans to offer a course on tree climbing, in an attempt to teach students survival skills, after the chancellor was inspired by similar courses at universities in the United States.

Xiamen University, in Fujian province, posted a picture on its microblog on Sunday, reportedly from a course offered at Cornell, and the post said students would also be taught how to move freely between trees.

Staff members involved in the programme are now searching for trees near the campus that could be used.

The university's physical education department confirmed the plans yesterday but did not give a timetable for the course's implementation.

Some staff members said it could begin next semester.

A PE teacher with the university, Professor Huang Lisheng , said on his microblog account on Saturday that chancellor Zhu Chongshi had asked his department to find trees on nearby mountains and to begin the course as soon as possible after Zhu was impressed with similar courses during a recent trip to the US.

Several US universities offer tree-climbing courses, teaching students how to properly use ropes and buckles, but the safety requirements, equipment needs and pressure on staff are said to be very demanding.

Xiamen University began offering golf as a physical education course in 2005, sparking debate from those who say 'noble games' are too pricey to be offered at higher education institutes.

Huang said most of the university's physical education fund was spent on sailing, baseball, golf and wilderness survival.

'The number of students who can enrol [in those courses] is very limited,' he said.

Some bloggers expressed excitement about the planned course, saying it could be fun and useful for students. Others, however, were concerned that it could be a waste of money and have an adverse effect on trees.

The PE teachers are busy preparing course plans, learning to climb and watching videos from the US.

One teacher told the Fujian-based Strait Herald: 'Few of us can climb trees, and we need training before we can teach.'