It is easy to mistake Fudan University's Lu Liu as an ordinary student. But the 145 First Year students at the Shanghai university's School of Journalism know better. Ms Lu, 22, who is doing her master's degree in journalism, is one of 148 graduates appointed to look after the needs of the faculty's students. 'I'm responsible for the daily operation of the faculty. 'I help students arrange a variety of activities, such as spring outings, New Year parties and football matches. 'If they run into trouble, I am the person they talk to. Sometimes I even visit their dormitories to see if everything is in order,' said Ms Lu. The Talented Programme was launched in 1994 to overcome the university's shortage of counsellors. Director of the Office of Student Affairs, Xia Kejia, said academic staff did not have the time or enthusiasm to deal with university life besides teaching. 'We needed people to help the students with their daily lives - like accompanying sick students to hospital or preparing them for a singing competition,' he said. He said the programme was also being used to identify students who may want a full-time job at the faculty. Today, more than 50 per cent of the university's counsellors are programme members. Mr Xia said there was a strict procedure for choosing counsellors, some of whom were senior undergraduates. 'For example, he or she must be a Communist Party member with a decent GPA [Grade Point Average] and have related experience, such as being a member of the students' union or a class president. But the most important requirement is enthusiasm to spend a lot of time with the students.' Ms Lu, who began counselling last year after attending a series of lectures on topics such as religion, psychology and communication skills, said although she was nervous at first, her students were 'like angels'. 'They are easily pleased. They are so different from each other and have taught me a lot about classical music and football. One of them is now trying to teach me how to play Bridge,' she said. Another counsellor, Gao Xiang, who began studying for a PhD in environmental science last year, agreed. 'My 53 students are all in their third year now. I feel there is a bond between us. After spending more than two years with them, I feel it is my responsibility to give them advice and keep them from making the mistakes I did,' he said. Gao Xiang said he was deeply touched when one of his students wrote in the counsellor assessment that her luckiest experience in Fudan was having him as her counsellor. But university students in Hong Kong had a different view, feeling they were mature enough to cope with university life. If help was needed, they said, they would prefer to turn to friends. Scarlet Chiang, a 21-year-old Baptist University student, said: 'I feel more comfortable talking with my friends about my personal experience than with strangers.'