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China: Around The Nation

Chinese students say ‘I don’t’ to university’s advert for couples-only accommodation

Nankai University offers fully furnished married quarters for just US$360 a year, but idea is roundly mocked online

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 1:08pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 2:55pm

A Chinese university’s attempt to fill dozens of vacant rooms set aside for married couples has sparked derision online with some people accusing it of encouraging students to tie the knot for the sake of cheap accommodation.

“No more long-distance relationships, a couple’s dorm will give you a world of your own,” Nankai University in Tianjin, a port city to the northeast of Beijing, wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, on Thursday.

According to a report published on Friday by China Youth Daily, the fully furnished rooms, which come with a private toilet, cost 2,400 yuan (US$360) a year to rent, though it did not say how much a standard room costs.

The Weibo post made clear, however, that the accommodation was available only to married couples and that both partners had to be enrolled at the university.

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The couples’ rooms were introduced in the 1990s, but in recent years they have not been popular, with only 18 of the 43 available currently occupied, mostly by older, postgraduate students, the report said.

Unfortunately for the university, the online promotion was met not with a flood of applications, but a torrent of criticism. In just two days, the post received more than 2,000 comments, few of them supportive.

“Everyone is welcome to get married in Nankai! Get married soon and you can save money on hotel rooms,” one person wrote.

“I will find a man to get married to as soon as possible, and then get a divorce after graduation,” said another.

But as well as the cynics, one Weibo user hinted at the possible reason for the scheme’s limited success.

“The problem is, you have to first reach the legal age [for marriage], which means at least after Year Four, and then you also have to have a partner who also studies at Nankai … how likely is that to happen?”

The well-reasoned comment was “liked” more than 1,900 times.

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Under Chinese law, men have to be 22 to get married and women 20. The legislation even states that “late marriage and late births should be encouraged”.

Despite the lack of online support, the university stood by its policy.

“Nankai is not trying to encourage early marriage among students,” the newspaper report quoted a spokesman as saying.

“We hope couples’ rooms can help relieve the economic pressure on student couples and also help them build a stronger relationship,” he said.

At least one social media user was supportive of the idea.

“This is a very considerate school,” the person wrote.