With enrollment letters being delivered to college candidates, China's Ministry of Education pledged on Tuesday that the government would ensure every poor student could enter college even if they don't have the money for tuition fees.
"China has made unprecedented efforts to establish a nationwide mechanism to help poor university students," said Wang Xuming, the Ministry's spokesman, at a press conference.
The "Green Channel" policy, introduced in 2000, will be reinforced to enable poor students to register for college first and pay tuition later with the help of subsidized loans and reduced fees, according to Wang.
Statistics from the Ministry show that about 390,000 students used "Green Channel" to register for college in 2005, accounting for eight percent of total registrations.
China also launched a large-scale scheme in 1999 to provide subsidized loans to poor college students. By the end of June, 2.405 million students had received loans totaling 20.14 billion yuan (around US$2.5 billion)
What's more, universities are required to provide more work and study programs, decrease or eliminate charges for poor students, and reduce tuition fees by 10 percent to subsidize poor students.
China now has 15.62 million college students, three million of whom come from poor families.
In China, families have to pay at least 8,000 yuan (US$975.6) a year for their child's college education, which means farmers have to shell out years of income.
A media report blamed a farmer's suicide on his fear of being unable to afford the college tuition fees of his son. Though the Ministry of Education claimed their investigation showed the suicide had nothing to do with the son's college application, the event nevertheless spurred a renewed outcry about the difficulty and cost of education.
(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2006)