Forty-five thousand disadvantaged college students in economic need, judged to be outstanding both morally and academically, became the first batch to win China's state scholarship award Monday morning.
Vice-Premier Li Lanqing attended the awards ceremony and pose for group photos with the students.
China began to institute a state scholarship system at colleges and universities in 2002 to strengthen the financial aid mechanism and help the needy students complete their studies.
The scholarship system involves an annual budget allocation of 200 million yuan (US$24.2 million) by the central government as a special fund in support of 45,000 low-income academically superb students. The first prize consists of 6,000 yuan (US$725.5) and is awarded to 10,000 students, while second prize consists of 4,000 yuan (US$483.7) awarded to 35,000 students.
Along with the scholarship, the students will be exempt from paying tuition for the academic year in question.
China has worked out a series of policies to aid needy students, including offering scholarships, loans and grants.
By the end of last year, China had provided 590,000 students with 5.1 billion yuan (US$616.7 million) of contractual loans.
(Xinhua News Agency February 24, 2003)