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College draws flak for charging students to use air conditioning

By Quan Zhanfu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-19 00:05

A viral video has sparked controversy over a college in China requiring students to pay for classroom air conditioning. Zonglan News, a Hebei news portal, reported on Tuesday that Huizhou Economics and Polytechnic College in Guangdong province uses a QR code payment system for students to activate air conditioners during class.

The video ignited debate, with many netizens criticizing the practice. They argue that student fees should cover basic amenities like air conditioning, and additional charges are unfair. Some expressed concerns about the college potentially profiting from a public utility.

The college addressed the controversy on Monday. A logistics department staff member explained that a lack of air conditioning previously led to complaints about uncomfortable learning conditions. In response, the college installed air conditioners in all classrooms, requiring students to activate them via QR code payments.

The staff member clarified that these payments cover electricity costs, as the college lacked a dedicated budget for air conditioning. They emphasized that the 24 yuan figure circulating online is a prepayment, not the actual per-class cost. The actual cost ranges from 2.5 yuan for smaller classrooms to 16 yuan for large lecture halls. Students can collectively decide how to cover these expenses, through class funds or other methods, especially when multiple classes share a classroom.

The college acknowledged student concerns about fairness and assured them it is exploring solutions to balance student and faculty comfort with reduced financial burdens on the institution.

Huizhou Economics and Polytechnic College, established in 2004 with over 10,680 students, is a junior college approved by the Guangdong provincial government.

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