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20 Percent of Chinese University Students Face Financial Difficulties

Some 2.4 million students in Chinese universities and colleges are facing financial difficulties, accounting for 20 percent of the total enrollment, Vice Minister of Education Zhang Baoqing said in Beijing Tuesday.

Among them, 1.6 million are facing severe financial difficulties, 5-10 percent of the total students enrolled, Zhang said at a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council.

At the end of 2003, he said, some 18 million students were receiving higher education, about 12 million at full-time state-run colleges and universities.

With the rapid development of higher education, Chinese universities and colleges are all open to the public. However, Zhang said, the number of college students with financial difficulties also grows rapidly.

According to the vice minister, the complicated reasons can be highlighted as the general low income of the Chinese people as a whole, the high rate of university students from rural areas and the high tuition that has been levied over the last few years.

Statistics show that half of the university students in China are from rural areas, with some from poverty-stricken areas.

Zhang said that the government pays great attention to poor students and has worked out a series of policies to help them. They can get scholarships, student loans, remission of tuition fees and part-time jobs to subsidize their campus life.

Under the National Facilitating Student Loan Program initiated in 1999, more than 800,000 needy students have received state education loans worth 5.2 billion yuan (630 million US dollars).

But he acknowledged that some localities and universities did not fully implement the state policies supporting those needy students.
(Xinhua News Agency September 1, 2004)

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