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US$3m Fund to Aid Poor College Students

Some US$3 million will be injected to poor college students in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Shaanxi, Qinghai, Sichuan and Hunan provinces.

Ten universities will be selected after evaluation by regional education administrations. They will then define the number of students eligible for help.

"The money, allocated by the Ford Foundation, is expected to help support cash-strapped students," said the foundation's representative Andrew Watson, yesterday in Beijing.

Sources from the Ministry of Education said more than 19 million students are attending colleges. Some 20 per cent of these students have financial difficulties.

"Financially-burdened students are not only poor financially, but also weak in learning English and computer skills, as they come from landlocked and remote areas. Moreover, they are prone to be shy and fearful of others from the cities, which can hinder their sense of well-being and confidence," said an official of the ministry, who declined to be named.

The country has implemented several methods over the past few years, such as loans, subsidies, tuition-exemption, or providing students with out-of-class odd jobs to help them earn money.

Liu Yan, a cash-strapped girl from Southwest China's Guizhou Province, graduated from Huazhong Agriculture University, thanks to the country's loaning-for-study system. She said: "I think it is important to work out a good way to aid more poor students, both financially and psychologically."

Cen Daoquan, a teacher from Shaanxi Technology College, said his college will surely apply for the Ford Foundation's assistance.

(China Daily May 11, 2005)

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