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US$33 Mln Subsidies for Needy Qingdao Students Annually

Indigent students attending universities, high schools, vocational schools and private schools in Qingdao, a city in east China's Shandong Province, now enjoy education subsidies to their cover tuition and boarding fees plus extras, thanks to a subsidy system established by the local government.

Based on this system, the central government and the Qingdao municipal government will finance all the subsidies for indigent students enrolled in compulsory education. The governments at different levels will invest as much as 240 million yuan (US$33.05 million) in total, benefiting 150,000-some students each year.

For poor university students, national scholarships and fellowships will be secured for their tuition fees, boarding fees and living expenses. The central government and local government set up the national scholarship and fellowship jointly. The scholarship covers needy, full-time undergraduate students who do well in their studies, providing for three percent of the total student population, with an average amount of 5,000 yuan (US$689) per student per year. The fellowship covers indigent full-time students, covering 14 percent of the total student population, in three levels of 1,000 yuan (US$138), 2,000 yuan (US$275) and 3,000 yuan (US$413), or an average of 2,000 yuan (US$207) per student per year.

For poor urban and township students and vocational school students from rural areas, national fellowships set up by the central government and local government will be the main financial source for their first two years' study, allotting them with 1,500 yuan (US$207) per year per person. For their third year's study, they may get part-time jobs, internships or tuition fee waivers. Nearly 130,000 students, or 90 percent of the vocational school students, were subsidized last year, with a total sum of 100 million yuan (US$14 million).

For poor high school students, they may obtain fellowships from the government, waive their tuition fees or receive donations from society. This will cover eight percent of the registered high school students, and 100 percent of students enrolled in special education schools. In 2007 a sum of 5.5 million yuan (US$757,181) in subsidies benefited more than 11,000 students, with the average amount totaling 1,000 yuan per student per year. The awards were doled out in three levels: 500 yuan (US$69), 1,000 yuan and 1,500 yuan.

Since last autumn, the Qingdao local government has requested that all community schools and the schools for compulsory education with different ownerships should also waive their students' incidental fees. By the end of last year, a total of 2.3 million yuan (US$316,739) for incidental fees were exempted, benefiting 15,000 students. Regulations state that that in the next five years, school boarding fees should not be higher than that of autumn 2006. Other fees and charges students must pay will be strictly controlled as well, in a bid to alleviate the financial burden among students and their families.

(China Development Gateway by Xu Lin January 14, 2008)

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