Starting yesterday, people who want to seek government funds to study abroad can apply through a newly launched online system for the 2006 National Scholarship.
Hopefuls can log on at www.csc.edu.cn to get the application form. About 7,000 people this year will receive the fund to cover all or part of their expenses abroad, the China Scholarship Council (CSC) has announced.
Eligible applicants should have at least a bachelor's degree and work at colleges, government departments, public institutions, research centers or enterprises for at least two years.
Postgraduate and doctorate students in college are also eligible, according to the scheme.
Cao Guoxing, director of the International Cooperation and Exchange Department with the Ministry of Education, said more postgraduates would be offered the scholarship this year.
"The National Scholarship is to aid excellent students or experts who have financial difficulties," he said at a recent meeting. "Priority will be given to applicants that major in fields that the country is weak at."
They include telecommunications, advanced agricultural technology, life science, materials science, engineering science, applied social science and environmental science.
Deadline for applications is March 10, and successful applicants have to sign contracts to guarantee they come back to China after finishing studies.
The Sino-British Merit Scholarship and Sino-French doctorate program will be further promoted this year as part of the National Scholarship.
Ministry figures show that 7,000 Chinese got the National Scholarship last year, up 75 per cent over the previous year.
Cao reiterated that it is China's consistent policy to encourage students to study abroad and students are welcome back after finishing their studies. He revealed that 18,098 out of 22,031 people who were funded by CSC have returned to China after they completed their studies overseas since 1996.
Nearly one-fourth of the 900,000 Chinese students who had been abroad for studies have returned.
(China Daily January 6, 2006)