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Creation of double degree in Chinese language and literature in dispute

Peking University, May 16, 2011: Every year in May, whether to take a double degree and which to take are widely discussed among PKU students. It is true that the double degree in economics always attracts the most students, while at the same time a good number of students are also in favor of double degrees in history or philosophy that are less popular.



PKU Department of Chinese Language and Literature's courtyard (File photo)


A bulletin on the creation of double degree in Chinese Language and Literature (thereinafter “the Double Degree”) was released on May 9 on the website of PKU Office of Educational Administration, triggering hot debates on BDWM BBS thereafter among students.


A "crisis" for Chinese majors?  

On the same day, a post on Weiming BBS titled “Feeling of crisis after hearing the opening up of the Double Degree” drew most attention. “I don’t know whether the Department of Chinese Language and Literature (thereinafter “the Department”) would increase its income from the Double Degree’s tuition fee, but I am sure that it would make it even more difficult for PKU Chinese majors  to find a job. Non-Chinese majors would be able to realize their dream to learn Chinese Language and Literature by taking the double degree. However, “Bachelor in Chinese Language and Literature” would be devalued, which is too merciful for non-Chinese majors and meanwhile even harsher for Chinese majors,” the author said with deep melancholy.


Dai Chenchen, a freshman from the Department said, “our teachers said in a high profile that the Department would definitely not cater for common customs by opening up a double degree in Chinse to devalue the Department. However, I lost my tongue when questioned about it by friends from other departments or universities”.


Another freshman name Yu Qian appeared to be agitated, “It seems that the Department is selling its degree. Given the extensive and profound knowledge of Chinese Language and Literature, it’s impossible to learn that much by taking several easy courses. Meanwhile it is unfair for us since we spend double time to obtain the degree. All the Department’s students were astonished once hearing the news. Anyway, those who are interested in Chinese language and literature could audit the courses.”


Such anger prevails on campus. Some students think that the initiative would level down overall quality of the Department’s future students. Most of the Department’ students choose this major  because they have an ardent love for Chinese language and literature. However since the Department provides a double degree, a number of such students would consider a win-win solution of majoring another and double in Chinese.


However, Liu Yachen, a sophomore from the Department holds different views, “I felt very uncomfortable when I saw this news since only we were  competent for the degree due to its holiness. Later I felt that it didn’t matter, because there is no conflict of interests between double degree takers and us.”


Pan Tingyu, a freshman of the Department smiled, “The opening up of the Double Degree conforms to contemporary trend. Most of PKU departments and schools have established double degree programs. Since many courses in the Department attract an amazing number of auditors, it is reasonable to provide a double degree in Chinese. Besides, we will work even harder under peer pressure from double degree takers.”


Such feeling of crisis seems not understandable for students from other departments. “I don’t think double degree programs would bring peer pressure to those majors , otherwise students from School of Economics would have already protested given that most PKU students take a double degree in economics. Our school also offers a double degree program, but it is a fact that the level of double degree takers and students majoring in it do differ largely,” Wang Minzhao, sophomore of School of International Studies said.


According to data released by staff in Chinese Department’s academic administration, 68 out of 100 freshmen have already signed up for other double degree programs. It is estimated that more than 70% of all freshmen of the Department would take double degrees by the application deadline.  However, why should these Chinese majors enthusiastic in taking double degrees of other departments and schools complain about other majors taking a double degree in Chinese?


Good news for Chinese language and literature fans? 

According to Min Feng, director in charge of undergraduate academic administration of the Department, they expect to admit 50 students in their double degree program in 2011. By May 12, he had received 16 applications, including 14 from School of Foreign Languages, School of Government, School of International Studies, Guanghua School of Management, and School of Journalism and Communications, the other two from School of Environmental and Urban Sciences and School of Earth and Space Sciences. “This is our department’scollective decision. Our teachers would strive to accumulate experience in the first year.”


Zhang Chang, a freshman from the Department, said that “I don’t think many students would sign up for the Double Degree. Most of such students choose the Double Degree out of interest, so they could audit the courses rather than bother to take the Double Degree. I doubt whether they could survive the heavy study load which is quite different from other double degrees. I guess that many of them would quit in midway.” Yu Qian agrees with such point, “Those choosing to take the Double Degree must do it out of interest since the Double Degree would not help job seeking as the double degree in economics does.”


“Our teachers once said the Department would definitely not offer a double degree program, and probably they said so out of the wish to maintain the essence of Chinese language and literature. Right now I can accept the situation. For liberal arts students majoring in history and other fields, it would be complementary to take the Double Degree. It is also beneficial for science students to study both arts and science,” Zhang Chang added.


Without advantages in job hunting as the double degree in economics does, would it be really beneficial for other departments’ students to take the Double Degree?


“Loving Chinese literature is totally different from learning Chinese Language and Literature. It would be less interesting for one to research in his interested field,” Xu Xiaotang, a sophomore from School of Arts commented.


“I love literature. However, I haven’t considered seriously whether to learn literature as a major. I learn much from auditing a good number of the Department’s courses, but to take the Double Degree is not a easy decision since I need to take many factors into consideration,” Leng Huining, a freshman from School of International Studies said.


Last year, PKU Law School re-initiated its double degree in intellectual property, which received less controversy. The emergence of the Double Degree may break the Chinese majors’ insist on Chinese language and literature’s pureness, while at the same time it may provide an access for students interested in the field. We cannot judge now but only wait to know whether this is a crisis or good news.



Written by: Gong Ting

Edited by: Zhang Chunlan

Source: PKU Youth