Across China: Big data to enhance college life

NANJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- "How many times do you take a shower each week?" "Do you like to sleep with the air conditioner on?" Many freshmen at Nanjing University filled out an online questionnaire before the upcoming semester. The university hopes to distribute dormitory assignments according to students' habits and interests.

"We expect to promote dormitory harmony and help students have a happier college life," said Guo Yamin, an official of the student affairs office at the university.

The questionnaire covers the students' timetable, living and learning habits and social preferences. By analyzing and matching the data, the university hopes to develop a student-oriented dormitory allocation method, arranging for students with similar habits to live in the same dorms.

"Two students may live in the same room only if they have some similarities," said Guo. "We hope to avoid arranging two people with very different habits in the same room."

The move also aims to lower the possibility of disputes among the students.

To ensure the students' privacy, the detailed statistical results were not disclosed. The university assured the students that the data would only be used for reference in the allocation of dormitories.

This is the second year the university conducted the questionnaire, with 80 percent of 3,300 freshmen voluntarily completing the survey. In 2017, only 25 of freshmen participated in the survey. Questions such as preference on "music volume inside the room" were added this year.

The university will also consider and respect the cultural diversity of the dormitories, said Guo.

The autumn semester of the country's colleges and schools usually starts on Sept. 1. Currently, many colleges allocate dormitories using students' origins and age as a reference.