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No student loans for phone or MP3 owners
Updated: 2004-12-16 08:19

A Shanghai university says students who own cell phones or other extravagant products wouldn't be allowed to apply for government tuition grants or loans - a rule that has triggered great controversy among students.

Starting this semester, Donghua University announced that needy students owning products such as cell phones, computers and MP3 players aren't entitled to the national tuition grant of 6,000 yuan (US$723) each year. Grant applicants who are found to own such high-priced toys will be asked to stop using them or give up their grants.

The regulations don't cover students who are preparing to graduate, however, as cell phones are needed during job hunting, Donghua officials said.

"We should stick to the fair play principle to ensure that all grants are given to those who really need them," said Wang Kebin, director of Donghua's student affairs department.

The city has allocated more than 29.44 million yuan in grants to 44,209 local needy university students this year. About 7,500 students enjoyed a tuition exemption, totaling 21.78 million yuan, according to the Shanghai Education Commission.

Normally, students who submit an application would be given a tuition grant after passing an assessment by teachers and fellow students. This year, a student from a single-parent family was expelled from the grant beneficiary list after he refused to give up his cell phone, Donghua said.

"Since the grant is set up to aid study, it is for sure that the money should be spent on the study or daily necessities rather than any other extravagances," Wang said. He added that cell phones and MP3 players are by no means essential for non-graduate students.

The phone-or-grant rule has run into opposition from many students, parents and other universities. "It's unfair for cell phone owners to be deprived of grant opportunities," said Zhu Lin, a local university student. "Cell phones are not rare among students, as they also need to communicate with the outside world."

Shen Minghua from Fudan University's student affairs department, said that students should have the freedom to spend the grants as they see fit. "What if the MP3 player was sent by a relative as a gift or students used their own part-time job income to buy a cell phone."

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