More than 2,700 students in 14 universities in Beijing won't be able to go home to spend Spring Festival with their families because of financial pressures. They're among over 4,000 students in the capital city who're going to spend the holiday on campus, according to a survey conducted by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation.
Most of these students can't afford the travel expenses and have to do odd jobs during the holiday break to cover next semester's living expenses.
It's good news that the foundation and Beijing News jointly initiated a program on Sunday calling on enterprises and individuals to either donate funding for students' transportation home or help them secure employment during the Spring Festival.
China Minsheng Banking Corp donated 300,000 yuan (US$38,500) and this will enable 600 students to go home for the holidays. Such generous support solves some of the immediate needs but a more long-term strategy is required.
The foundation survey presents a striking picture of how students from poverty-stricken families manage their lives on campus. Although many of them can get interest-free loans from banks the ceiling for such funding is 6,000 yuan (US$760) per student per year. This is little more than the annual tuition fees. Students still have to rely on part-time jobs for their living expenses.
The survey finds that the average student exists on a meager 300 yuan (US$38) a month while on campus. This underlines the importance of providing students with part-time jobs. A relatively stable job such as a tutor, librarian or even babysitter will guarantee a student a reasonable income.
The fact that more than 30 percent of university students were cheated during their efforts to find work suggests that relevant government departments and universities need to create employment both on and off campus.
If a better job can be made of this from now on financially strapped students would be able to afford to go home to be with their loved ones during next year's Spring Festival.
(China Daily January 16, 2007)