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Print Edition> Forum
UPDATED: August 1, 2011 NO. 31 AUGUST 4, 2011
Should Billionaires Be a University Yardstick?


(PKU) has produced 79 billionaires, and the most of all universities in China for three years in a row," said PKU President Zhou Qifeng. After PKU on the list is Tsinghua University with 70 billionaires and Zhejiang University with 66. These numbers come from a list called 2011 China's List of Billionaire-producing Universities, released by the China University Alumni Association, an institution which evaluates universities with different standards. This time, PKU is ranked in first place in the number of the rich the universities have nurtured, and PKU leaders are quite happy about the result.

Besides PKU, many MBA and EMBA classes place a lot of emphasis on the number of the rich they produce. It's a trend the social status of a university is in accordance with the number of billionaires that have graduated from it.

Ever since the list was released, there has been heated debate about whether nurturing billionaires should be a function of today's universities.

Supporters of the idea think producing business elites does not contradict producing academic masters and it should be an important function of today's universities.

On the other hand, opponents think the real mission of universities should be preserving human civilization rather than focusing on financial issues. Taking the number of billionaires as an index for evaluating universities is misleading.

Important function

Zhou Qifeng (The Beijing News): I'm very happy that PKU not only nurtures academic masters but also high-caliber personnel in the business world. Robin Li, CEO of Baidu.com, one of the most frequently used search engines in China, graduated from PKU and his total worth has now reached $9.4 billion. I'm so proud.

I hope outstanding entrepreneurs who graduated from PKU remember their responsibilities and are pioneers in charity and social welfare while pursuing financial benefits.

Cai Yanhou (cuaa.net): The number of billionaires who graduated from PKU demonstrates it's a top-notch university in China and the social status PKU has in Chinese society isn't surpassed by other universities.

During the era of economic globalization, all universities in China should learn from PKU and try their best to produce the most outstanding future business personnel.

Chen Si (Yangcheng Evening News): Ever since the implementation of Chinese reform and opening-up policy, all Chinese universities have produced not only scientific masters and political leaders but also many millionaires and billionaires.

People with a college background have a bigger chance of becoming powers in the business world after graduation. In this sense, knowledge has really become power. If one university can nurture people that influence the world economy, the university is bound to be considered first-class in the world. Besides, rich alumni have become the main donors to their alma maters, which has helped a lot in better development of universities.

We can see the capacity to create future billionaires is not contradictory to cultivating future scientists. Turning students into future billionaires has become one of the main functions of China's universities.

Deng Ziqing (www.chinanews.com): From my point of view, it's quite unfair to criticize PKU's showing off the number of billionaires it has produced during the past decade.

First, since ancient times, people have paid a lot of attention to making money. And one of the main functions of learning is to improve one's financial status. In today's world, in particular, the power of money has become a leading force in society. In this context, it's totally Ok for PKU to tell the world proudly it has cultivated the most billionaires. It's totally the same for a university to brag about the number of billionaires it has produced as it is to tell people the number of successful politicians it nurtured. There is nothing wrong with it. After all, society is ruled by economic power and political power, in the past, at present and in the future.

Second, to a certain extent, amount of wealth is well related to one's personal capability. Among those 79 billionaires, many are also masters in their respective fields. For instance, Robin Li is a widely   recognized master in the field of search engine technology, while Li Ning was a master in gymnastics. Therefore, they are both business powers as well as masters that PKU has cultivated. PKU has the right to be extremely proud of them.

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