Poor benefit in Chinese reforms of tuition fees

April 28, 1995

Chinese education authorities have mapped out measures to help poor university and college students while promoting a unified tuition fee policy, Geoffrey Parkins writes.

Zhang Tianbao, deputy minister of the State Education Commission, said the issue of poorer students would take top priority in forthcoming higher education reforms.

He was speaking at a national seminar on financial aid for poor students in higher education this month. The commission's proposals will go for discussion with institutions and government departments.

They involve granting institutions full authority in managing a variety of scholarships arrangements.

It is suggested that central government adjusts the allocation of special scholarships to favour students of teaching, agriculture, forestry, ethnic studies, physical education and maritime studies.

The government is also to provide far more and better scholarships for students agreeing to fixed-term job-assignments after graduation, and the availability of student loans is to be increased.

Yang Zhoufu, a senior commission official, said 50 million yuan (Pounds 3.8 million) is needed over the next four years in order to establish a sufficient student loan fund to cover the 330 universities and colleges run by the commission and other ministries. The commission is also preparing a tuition-waiver policy to prevent students having to abandon their higher studies through financial difficulties.

The so-called "self-financed" or "enterprise sponsored" policy, where institutions charged extra fees to students admitted with lower entrance exam scores, is to be wiped out by the commission's new unified-tuition fee policy.

Many of the institutions adopting the policy during the last year report increased enrolments from poor and rural areas, which is very encouraging said Zhang.

Unified tuition fees range from 1,000 to 1,500 yuan (Pounds 77 to Pounds 115) per year.

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