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Private Universities: New Magnet for Shanghai Students
For some college students in Shanghai, China's financial center, public universities are not the only way to complete a higher education.

One out of every 10 university students in Shanghai are now pursuing their studies at private universities in this metropolis known as the "breeding ground of China's talents".

An official from the municipal education administration department said that Shanghai now has over 1,800 private and non-government funded educational institutions, which includes 40 private institutes and several hundred colleges providing non-diploma higher education.

Many private universities turn to prestigious local public universities for their higher management staff and faculty, which has given these organizations not only high-level teaching staff, but also made them more attractive to students.

The Shanghai Fuqiu Vocational Studies College, which was approved several weeks ago, is located in the financial trade zone in the Pudong Lujiazui area. Its President Hu Aiben was formerly assistant to the president of the prestigious Fudan University, and is also a Ph.D. candidate supervisor. All major teachers at Fuqiu are from Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and Shanghai University.

"We have set up 18 majors including computer information management, journalism and hotel management, which are relatively popular majors," said Hu, adding that after three years' study here, if the students pass the exams organized by Fudan and Tongji universities, they will get professional training diplomas.

Hu also disclosed that his college is now applying for certification to offer four-year degrees, while its ultimate goal is to create a personnel training base for "high-level managers and engineers".

Compared with the former models of inviting retired university teachers, putting up posters on trees to attract students, and renting classrooms for teaching activities, most private educational institutions now have a strong base of private capital. Some private enterprises invest huge amounts of money in establishing colleges.

Entrepreneurs putting money in education are doing it as an investment these days, rather than as a donation. Xu Xincai, a shareholder of Fuqiu, said: "The education industry has a bright future, though it takes a longer period of time to receive a return on investment."

The former status of "investment with no repayment" for private education has gradually changed in the educational reform process.

The "Law on Private Education Promotion", passed at the end of 2002, stipulated that "private school investors can get reasonable repayment after deducting schooling cost and reserving development funds and other expenses".

Xue Ximin, deputy director of the Shanghai municipal education commission, said that the "law on private education promotion" raises concepts such as "reasonable repayment", "property relationship", and "corporate qualification", which will provide more room for private education development.

Xue even holds that in the coming years, prestigious schools will appear among these private institutions, and being a private college graduate will not be a source of embarrassment for the young people of Shanghai.

(Xinhua News Agency July 15, 2003)

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