Universities for the Elderly offer Chinese seniors a colorful life

Aerial photography, selfie skills, fashion design, traditional Chinese medicine, piano, singing and dancing… These various courses at Chinese universities for the elderly help senior citizens keep with the times and enjoy life after retirement.
“Thanks to the University for the Elderly, with fittings like the fisheye lens, macro lens, and wide-angle lens, I can make photos taken with a mobile phone look as if they were taken with an SLR camera,” said a 70-year-old woman surnamed Yu, from Jianghan District of Wuhan City, capital of central China’s Hubei Province.
Before going to the University for the Elderly, Yu could hardly use a smartphone.
In the University for the Elderly located in Jianghan District, the smartphone photography course is popular among senior citizens. It not only teaches students photography skills, but also how to use professional photography and retouching software, said Ye Sheng, teacher of the course.
“We had planned to open a single class for 40 people, but ended up with four classes and 170 students,” explained Feng Zhongmin, principal of the university, disclosing that senior citizens are enthusiastic about learning.
According to Feng, the university first opened a smartphone course in early 2015, and with the rapid development and popularity of mobile internet, the course became more and more popular, expanding from the initial two classes to 11 classes today.
Since the autumn semester of last year, another university for the elderly in Wuhan launched a course on aerial photography using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and has hired two UAV research and development, production, and driving professionals to teach the class.
After one semester, 90 percent of the over 50 students in the two university campuses have mastered the skills necessary to take aerial photos with UAVs. The university is going to offer students an advanced course on UAV photography, teaching them practical skills for the processing of aerial photos and videos.
Wan Nianchun, principal of the Hubei Province University for the Elderly, disclosed that there are currently six schools, 23 majors, and 280 classes in the university, offering various courses such as smartphone use, English, cooking, and tea art to nearly 8,000 students.
Li Guoli, 61, has been a student of the university since 2012. She had dreamed of playing the piano since she was a child, but due to a busy life, she wasn’t able to realize the dream. After retirement, Li joined the elementary piano course, and started her journey towards her goal.
“I play piano for at least two hours every day. I don’t feel good if even one day passes without playing piano,” said Li, who won first prize in a piano contest for students of universities for the elderly in the south-central region of China in November 2014.
With the growing popularity of universities for the elderly across the country, it has become more difficult for senior citizens to enroll. To solve this problem, many universities for the elderly have sought to provide more opportunities by integrating online and offline educational resources.
Besides expanding the educational areas of universities, a number of remote educational websites, radio programs, and online webcasts have been launched by various universities to benefit more senior citizens all over the country.
According to Feng, the University for the Elderly in Jianghan District of Wuhan rolled out online classes through webcasts last May, bringing courses such as traditional Chinese medicine and vocal music into the online classrooms.
Senior citizens from 100 district communities can take the classes online at the same time, explained Feng, adding that they can also benefit from online learning via online recorded programs and uploaded course materials.
In Hubei Province University for the Elderly, after the completion of one educational program, students are allowed to graduate from the university or transfer to other schools or majors.  
Source: People’s Daily Online

On August 27, 2018, elder students were signing up in line at the first day of the registration for the University for the Elderly in Anhui.
(Photo Tian Kaiping/People’s Daily Online)

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