Tourists and students take pictures outside a gate of Peking University in Beijing in June. The university is set to reopen to visitors on Saturday. (Photo/China Daily)
Closed off during pandemic, campuses finally relax strict security measures
After more than three years, a number of top universities in China, such as Peking University and Tsinghua University, will allow the public to enter the campus starting on Saturday.
Tsinghua will allow ordinary visitors from July 8 to Aug 6, between the hours of 9 to 11 am and 2 to 4 pm. The university is closed to visitors on Mondays.
Each visitor is only allowed to visit the university once, and can book three slots for companions.
Group travel is open only to primary and secondary school students.
In a similar notice, Peking University said that starting from Saturday it will open for ordinary visitors during summer and winter vacations, public holidays and weekends.
Group visits are also only open to primary and secondary school students.
Some other famous universities, including Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Wuhan University have also announced recently that they will allow visitors.
For most of the last two or three years, Chinese universities have adopted rigorous closed management policies to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.
In a poll by Southern Metropolis Daily in late May, while more than 96 percent of college students said they support the idea of opening their universities, they also expressed concerns that it may exert more pressure on maintaining order on campus.
Top universities have always been popular sites for travelers, especially for Chinese parents and students eager to embrace the academic atmosphere.
In fact, during the past few months, some visitors have gone through "underground" channels to enter the campus.
According to a report by the news website ThePaper.cn, some people have been offering paid services to enter the premises of Wuhan University by changing the profile pictures in the university's mini-app to let them enter the gates. The university responded that such actions are not allowed and they would also check the profile photo when they exit the campus.
On social media platforms, people have complained about the great difficulty in obtaining a booking. Some have claimed they can get tickets for others at a price, yet all universities said that they do not charge for tickets.
Yi Yi, who graduated from a Beijing university last year, was thrilled that she successfully booked tickets for her and her friend to visit Peking University on Sunday.
Although she has long wanted to visit the university, she has never found a good opportunity to do so.
"The top universities are the academic sanctuary for most Chinese students, and they have rich history and great cultural atmosphere," she said. "I want to visit Peking University to feel the atmosphere of one of the best universities in China, which will motivate me to continue learning."
Wang Qing, a researcher at the Beijing Institute of Technology's School of Humanities and Social Sciences, suggested that universities' opening-up needs to go beyond allowing the public to enter the brick-and-mortar buildings.
"Universities should not monopolize the rights to produce and evaluate knowledge. They should create knowledge together with the outside world," he told China Science Daily.