Afternoon Tea with the Dean for Undergraduate Students Held

On April 23, 2020, Tsinghua SEM’s “Afternoon Tea with the Dean” for undergraduate students was held online. Dean BAI Chong-En, along with a group of faculty at the Sschool met with students from various majors and grades online, discussing about issues including school life, future plan, industry development and the epidemic’s impact on economy, etc.


At the beginning of the meeting, Dean BAI encouraged students to raise questions and participate actively in the discussion. The event was carried out in a cozy atmosphere.


On what one should do in university, Dean BAI pointed out that such to-do-list is supposed to be a personal choice. He told the story of his debate with classmates about the reform of the international economic system during his undergraduate years, and suggested that students should try to make faithful friends, while improving their knowledge and abilities during university years.


Also, in order to tackle the lack of communication between international and Chinese students, Dean BAI suggested that cross-cultural communication is an important part of university life. On the one hand, the school has been organizing exchange programs and enrolling foreign students, and in the future, it will make some other arrangements as well. On the other hand, students should also positively organize activities to enhance communication.


Regarding the future career choices mentioned by the students, Dean BAI gave some suggestions from the perspective of supply and demand. On the demand side, people should avoid industries with no or little demand in the future. He emphasized that in future trend, not only machines will replace a lot of manual work, AI will replace some routine and repetitive mental work as well. If one can effectively avoid these sunset industries, a successful career is always possible to achieve. On the supply side, Dean Bai held that one should put interest, ability and knowledge into consideration, and figure out in which fields sustainable social value can be created.


We are in an era of great change, with rapid technological development and many uncertainties in the future. Dean BAI believes that students should strive to enhance their adaptability during undergraduate years. No matter how the world changes in the future, one can always fit in with enough adaptability.


For students who are interested in academic research, BAI said that strong curiosity, high requirements for answers, ability to propose meaningful topics, creativity and perseverance are the qualities of an able researcher. According to him, seeing if one is willing to perseveringly dig into one topic or not is the best way to find whether one fit to academic research.


While answering questions about college life, future plan and industry development, Dean Bai also put forward his own opinions on the impact of the epidemic that is widely concerned currently.


He believes that employment and further study abroad will be affected to a certain degree by the epidemic. Some foreign universities may reduce the number of foreign students due to funding problems. However, the recruitment of doctoral students in universities often has a fixed demand. For example, many doctoral students in economics have to work as teaching assistants in university courses. So, if a group of students graduate, new teaching assistants should always fill in. As for employment, it has a lot to do with the economy. Dean BAI believes that China and some developed countries will encounter an asymmetric and V-shaped economic trend in a relatively short period of time. The impact of the epidemic on the world economy is different from that of financial crisis. As long as most enterprises are still alive, the recovery should be rapid. Bai hopes that everyone can keep confident in economy.


Also, in terms of online teaching, Dean BAI pointed out that it is definitely a great challenge, at least for teachers. Since many teachers had no experience in teaching online before, they had to make great efforts. For students, it is also a great challenge, coming not only from the changes in the form of classes, but also from the changes in their lives. They could have had chances to live and communicate with their peers, but the current situation may be different, nonetheless communication in other forms can also be tried. BAI hopes that students can take the initiative to organize more activities online, so that their college life can still be rich and bring benefits to everyone. Though the school has also been trying to provide such support, but more things have to be done by students themselves, in creating a colorful college life online.