Qingdam, in southwest China, has been called a model for a new generation of dorms in the city.
At the same time, however, the dorm is a symbol of a country’s increasing reliance on technology and its ongoing social and economic transformation.
And with its soaring cost of living, the university has been forced to raise tuition to cover its expenses, forcing the local government to step in.
The result: Qingdui’s students are no longer enrolled in the traditional university, and are instead studying on the Internet.
And they’re getting an education they probably didn’t have when they first arrived in the capital, Beijing.
“I’ve been studying for eight years and I don’t know what I want to do with my life,” said one 23-year-old who asked not to be named.
“I’m worried I’ll have to return to my country if I don.
I feel like a second-class citizen.
It’s very scary.”
The dorm’s cost is rising.
In September, the provincial government announced a 25 percent tuition increase for all Chinese students.
And the government’s plans to raise the average monthly rent by an additional 10 percent this year have made some residents feel particularly uncomfortable.
“There are no jobs and I have no money,” said a man surnamed Yang, who arrived at the university a year ago.
“And this is why I’m staying here.”
Qingdang’s dormitory in Wuhan, Wuhans capital.
It was a common sight to see the dormitory’s residents in the evenings, as people in the dorm shared their experiences and worries.
This dormitory was once home to students at the Qingsdong university in northwest China.
(Yin Chen/Redux Pictures for Al Jazeera) But now, the situation is far different.
The dormitory is a virtual ghost town.
In a recent survey, students found they spent more than two hours a day on the internet and social media, and spent an average of 60 minutes in the office.
Some students said they didn’t even bother going outside.
“It’s so hard to go outside when there are so many people in here,” said Chen, who lives on campus with her husband and two children.
“Even if I had money, I would only go outside for two hours, since it was so crowded.”
She added that the dorm’s staff are very strict and do not allow anyone to use the internet.
“They tell us to leave all the dorms alone, and they do not accept anyone who doesn’t abide by these rules,” she said.
The student population is a big part of the problem, according to one of the dorm administrators, Li Xiaoming, who told Al Jazeera that students from other universities have been coming to Qingzhou to study.
“We are constantly working to keep the students who are coming here safe, but we also want to maintain the dorm as a place where they can meet other students from all over China,” he said.
He said the dorm has a population of about 50,000 people.
“When the students leave the dorm, we send them to the dorm they were in,” he added.
“For example, when they are leaving the dorm and come back, we tell them that they should keep the dorm in order and never leave it.”
He said that after the student left, he sent the dorm a letter informing the students of what had happened.
“The students who went to the university didn’t leave, so we did not send them a letter, so they couldn’t get a response,” he explained.
“So we are now sending them a note explaining the incident.”
The administration has also sent a notice to the students informing them that their dorm has to be closed for a week.
Student Wang said he has been staying at the dorm for the past year.
“After graduating, I wanted to study abroad,” he told Al jazeera.
“But the government stopped me from studying overseas and made me stay here.”
His family is not happy.
“In a few months, we will have to leave the country,” he complained.
“If we stay here, we cannot return.
If we leave, we can’t go back.
We can’t afford to live here.
We need a better life.”
According to Li, the problem is not limited to the campus.
“Many people are worried about the dorm being used for a party or something like that,” he continued.
“It’s hard to say exactly what will happen in the future.”
The university has not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.
Al Jazeera has contacted Qingdan for comment and will update this story when we hear back.