Parents splurge on freshmen

Updated: 2012-09-04 07:31

By Luo Wangshu in Beijing and Liu Ce in Shenyang (China Daily)

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'Electronic products are a must' for new generation of college students

Duan Wei's parents have spared no expense to make sure she is prepared for college.

"Electronic products are a must nowadays, especially laptops," said the 18-year-old, whose family has spent at least 30,000 yuan ($4,730) on a Macbook, digital camera and other high-tech gadgets to help Duan with her studies.

"It's not about luxury, it's about good quality," insisted the freshman, who will begin the fall semester at Northeast Forestry University in Harbin.

Parents splurge on freshmen

A college freshman, accompanied by her parents and relatives, takes a plush toy and an iPhone with her for her first semester at Liaoning University in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning province, on Friday. Fan Xiao / for China Daily

Stores across China have seen a rush to buy electronic products in the run-up to the new school year, particularly among college students.

"Our sales soared dramatically in August," said Mao Shaoqing, spokesman for, the China arm of US online electronics retailer Newegg Inc.

Sales of laptops have seen the biggest increase, with prices of bestsellers ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 yuan.

"The best-selling cellphones are under 2,000 yuan, but iPhones have seen decent sales, too," Mao said.

Duan's parents also splurged on new clothes, a smartphone, bedding, cosmetics and medication.

Her 49-year-old father, Duan Xudong, said: "It's first time for her to leave home, so I want to give her all the best I can."

He said things were very different in the 1980s when he attended college. "I was just happy if I had enough to eat (at college), as I lived on less than 10 yuan a month," he recalled.

He said he plans to give his daughter 1,500 yuan as a monthly living allowance.

However, such spending has highlighted the wealth gap that exists between college students, and the jealousy it can produce.

Wuhan Evening News recently reported that a freshman at Central China Normal University threatened to drop out unless her parents bought her an iPhone 4S.

Yangtze Evening Post in Jiangsu province also reported that 70 percent of freshmen spent 10,000 to 20,000 yuan on gadgets for school.

Zhang Dawei, a student counselor at Shenyang University, said that the average spending on supplies by new students has risen from a few thousand to at least 10,000 yuan over the past three years. "Some of the costs are not necessary, such as expensive smartphones. Most students buy such products not for study but for entertainment," he said.

Zhang also said students are receiving large living allowances from their parents.

According to Xinhua News Agency, a survey of 1,700 students found that the average student spent 800 yuan to 1,200 yuan a month last year.

"I was shocked when I read the news about students' expenses," said Zhu Jinchang, director of social policy research with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "I worry about this unhealthy social trend."

He said there are multiple reasons behind the trend, including education problems and a bad social atmosphere.

"Parents are spoiling their children," Zhu said.

Zhu also said the public needs to realize that the youth are the nation's future, and the bad atmosphere should be corrected with efforts from the public and the education system.

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