The Air Force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is to enroll 40 pilot cadets from second-year science and engineering students in civilian universities for the first time.
The recruitment process is open to 178 civilian universities nationwide with the aim of finding high-level personnel with detailed academic knowledge. The selection is due to be completed by July.
The male applicants have to be under 22-years-old, unmarried, between 1.65 meters and 1.85 meters tall and possess a good eyesight.
Senior Colonel Sui Guosheng, director of the air force's Pilot Cadets Enrolment Work Bureau, told Xinhua that the lucky 40 will be transferred to the PLA Air Force Aviation University for a two-year course on aviation theory, culture and flight technical training.
Upon graduation, the cadets will receive a bachelor's degree in military science and be appointed as first lieutenants at company deputy commander level, Sui said.
Those who cannot finish the course due to physical, technical or psychological problems can return to their original schools or switch to other aviation schools to continue their study for bachelor degrees, he added.
Sui also revealed that 30 female pilot cadets will be recruited in 2008. Last year, the Air Force decided to recruit female cadets every three years, rather than every seven or eight years as used to be the case.
According to Sui, Chinese pilot cadets used to be selected mainly from high school graduates. The selection this year is an innovative trial, and the Air Force believes that college students will be more adaptable to the professional training after two years of academic study .
The selection process is coordinated by the ministries of education, finance and public security, as well as the PLA General Political Department.
Wednesday's China Daily said more than 500,000 applicants from 178 institutions have put themselves forward so far, with 11,000 young students having already passed the first stage of testing.
(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2006)