NEWS > Mainland
Nationwide aid helps needy students fulfill college dreams
2005-08-21 06:44:27 XinhuaEnglish

TAIYUAN, Aug. 21(Xinhuanet)-- When 18-years-old Wang Zhen received a 3,000-yuan(360 US dollars) stipend from Shanxi Provincial Federations of Trade Unions, she was moved to tears.

Wang, one of the 4.75 million students enrolled by Chinese universities this year, felt bittersweet when the matriculation certificate of Xi'an Foreign Language Institute reached her late July.

The 7,000-yuan(863 US dollars) tuition stated on the matriculation certificate worried Wang, an orphan living in Wenshui, a county 100 kilometers away from Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi Province in north China.

Wang's mother died when she was two. Ten years later, her father laid down his life while fighting a forest fire. Wang and her little brother have since subsisted on his father's meager pension and been looked after by their aged grandparents.

"With the help of the trade union and many kind-hearted people, I have raised enough to cover my first-year tuition and accommodation," Wang told Xinhua.

Wang is among more than 100 new college students aided by Autumn School Aiding Program this year. Initiated by the provincial union federation in 2003, the program has offered 2.5 million yuan(300,000 US dollars) to more than 1,000 students with financial difficulties.

The aid campaign targeting at needy college students is not limited to this northern province.

In Guangzhou, a booming southern city, every student with financial difficulties may acquire stipend of 5,000 yuan(616.5 US dollars) paid in one lump sum if he is enrolled by college.

In the northwest province of Shaanxi, more than 900 model workers have raised 1.1 million yuan(135,600 US dollars) for the needy students.

In east China's Anhui Province, all universities added to the package of matriculation certificate special documents, telling newly-enrolled poor students how to apply for schooling aid.

Apart from aiding newly enrolled college students, many universities came up with preferential policies and opened various channels for needy students, such as exempting them from tuition and offering subsidy program and part-time jobs.

The Beijing-based Qinghua University announced recently it established a new 3-million-yuan(370,000 US dollars) special fund to aid the newly-enrolled students from needy families. The university spends more than 20 million yuan(2.47 million US dollars) on needy students every year.

With China's higher education covering more and more people, the number of needy college students has grown significantly in recent years. According to the Ministry of Education, about 2.4 million college students, or 20 percent of the nation's total, are beset with financial difficulties.

Their difficulties draw much attention from the government. Starting this year, the government allocates 1 billion yuan(123 million US dollars) every year into the National Allowance and Scholarship Program, aimed to reward and aid 533,000 college students from needy families.

Social organizations also reach out to the needy students. Led by the China Youth Foundation, several social groups launched in July a two-month campaign tailored to newly-enrolled college students. Apart from raising fund, organizers of the campaign will pay special attention to destitute students in 592 poverty-stricken counties, and a one-on-one aiding program will beset up.

Professor Li Wenli of the Education School, Beijing University, said China should improve its publicity of its financial aid polices for poor students, as most of them and their families know little about the polices and related programs.

With improved awareness of the governmental and social assistance, poor students would not be disheartened by such financial burdens as tuitions or lose confidence in pursuing college education, Li said.

"I will apply for subsidies and seek part-time job opportunities when I enter the college," Wang said."I will make efforts to repay society and those kind-hearted people." Enditem

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