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More Loans for Poor College Students
The Ministry of Education will work to help widen college recruitment, aid poor students with loans and improve business-backed campus services.

The number of students attending higher learning institutions will hit 16 million by 2005 from the present level of 13 million, the Ministry of Education announced yesterday.

The government began to expand college recruitment in 1999 to provide youngsters with more chances of higher education and drive economic development.

Three years of widening recruitment have played an active role in training professionals, the ministry's spokesperson said.

But this has exacerbated problems such as insufficient funds for teaching material and limited accommodation for newcomers.

The ministry has reiterated that regional governments should increase their budgets for education, the spokesperson said.

To make campuses less crowded, universities are encouraged to seek funding from private firms to build accommodation facilities and dining halls.

Halls of residence were previously supported mainly by government funding in the country's 1,021 regular universities.

In many universities, six to eight students share a dormitory with an area of just 10 squares meters and must sleep on bunk beds.

To help ease the financial burden caused by widened college recruitment, universities are opening campus services to the private market, the spokesperson said.

China has adopted a pay-to-learn system in its universities, meaning a student is required to pay 3,500 yuan (US$422) for tuition each year.

Different universities can slightly adjust their tuitions according to regional economic conditions.

But many students find it difficult to meet the extra living costs incurred during their studies. To help poor students complete their college education, the government will continue to operate its loan system.

(China Daily April 22, 2002)

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