The Ministry of Education has launched a five-year graduate program to send
about 5,000 students a year to the world's best universities, including Harvard
and Yale in the United States, and Oxford and Cambridge in England.
Vice-Minister Yuan Guiren said yesterday: "The country has expanded its
national scholarship program in a bid to cultivate more top-level talent."
The number of graduate students granted a national scholarship this year will
be roughly five times that in 2006, Yuan said.
Students will be chosen from the best undergraduates at 49 top universities
across the country, including Tsinghua and Peking.
"The lack of first-class scientists and research pioneers is the main thing
hindering China's innovation capability," Yuan said.
Officials with the China scholarship council, which runs the program, said
students applying for national key research subjects, such as energy and natural
resources, environment, agriculture, manufacturing, information technology,
biology and new materials will be given priority.
The council said it will also finance overseas study for 2,000 talented
employees from State organizations and research institutes across the country.
Established in 1996, the council had, at the end of last year, sent more than
27,000 students to study abroad. More than 97 percent of them subsequently
returned to China after finishing their studies, statistics showed.
Shao Wei, an official with the education ministry's overseas study service
center, said that since China opened up to the outside world in 1978, an
increasing number of Chinese had chosen to study abroad.
In 1998, just 17,000 Chinese students studied abroad, but that number
increased greatly after the country adjusted its policies on self-supported
overseas study in 2000.
Today, the majority of Chinese students studying overseas are doing so at
their own expense.
In 2006, more than 134,000 students went abroad to study; more than 90
percent of them were self-financed. Also last year, more than 42,300 students
returned to China.
Between 1978 and 2006, some 1.07 million Chinese students studied abroad.
"But less than 30 percent of them returned to China after finishing their
studies," Shao said.
"In response, the country has launched a series of favorable policies to
attract people to return home. These include higher salaries, senior positions
and exemption from the hukou (household registration) system," Shao said.
(China Daily 06/05/2007 page3)