Univer­sity pro­gram passes test by rais­ing for­eign stu­dent qual­ity

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO XINYING in Bei­jing zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A univer­sity foun­da­tion pro­gram de­signed for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents re­ceiv­ing the Chi­nese Govern­ment Schol­ar­ship has helped China to find bet­ter-qual­i­fied re­cip­i­ents, ac­cord­ing to an ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cial.

“Af­ter im­ple­ment­ing the pro­gram for six years, we are see­ing the govern­ment schol­ar­ship be­ing granted to more high-qual­ity in­ter­na­tional stu­dents,” said Wang Sheng-gang, deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the China Schol­ar­ship Coun­cil, in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with China Daily.

The coun­cil is a Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tute that ad­min­is­ters the schol­ar­ship.

Six years ago, it set up the univer­sity foun­da­tion pro­gram es­pe­cially for stu­dents from around the world who want to pur­sue bach­e­lor’s de­grees in China sup­ported by the schol­ar­ship.

Dur­ing the one-year pro­gram, schol­ar­ship can­di­dates are asked to at­tend bridg­ing cour­ses. These in­clude Chi­nese lan­guage and sub­jects re­lated to their stud­ies at Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties to pre­pare them fully for four years of study in the coun­try.

Af­ter this pro­gram, the stu­dents take a com­ple­tion ex­am­i­na­tion — a stan­dard exam or­ga­nized by the coun­cil that tests stu­dents’ Chi­nese-lan­guage abil­ity and knowl­edge of their fu­ture ma­jors. Those who fail the exam lose the chance of be­ing funded by the govern­ment schol­ar­ship.

The schol­ar­ship was set up af­ter agree­ments were reached by the Chi­nese govern­ment and other coun­tries or in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions to sup­port over­seas stu­dents pur­su­ing their stud­ies or re­search in China.

Dur­ing the past two decades, the schol­ar­ship has ex­panded greatly, both in terms of the num­bers it cov­ers and the amount of money it pro­vides.

Ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil, 4,307 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents re­ceived the schol­ar­ship 20 years ago, while last year 40,600 stu­dents from 182 coun­tries came to study in China with sup­port from the schol­ar­ship.

In re­cent years, the num­ber of re­cip­i­ents has risen by 13 per­cent an­nu­ally.

Early last year, the min­istries of ed­u­ca­tion and fi­nance an­nounced an in­crease in fund­ing for the Chi­nese Govern­ment Schol­ar­ship in view of the ris­ing cost of liv­ing and study­ing for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in China.

Re­cip­i­ents now com­ing to study in China are sup­ported by a schol­ar­ship pack­age rang­ing from 59,200 to 99,800 yuan ($9,000 to 15,000) a year, de­pend­ing on their ma­jor and length of study. This is much higher than be­fore.

For ex­am­ple, be­fore the in­crease, re­cip­i­ents of the schol­ar­ship re­ceived a monthly stipend of 1,400 yuan, or 16,800 yuan a year. They now re­ceive an an­nual stipend of 30,000 yuan.

Wang said 10 uni­ver­si­ties in China are of­fer­ing the foun­da­tion pro­gram to more than 1,000 schol­ar­ship can­di­dates who want to pur­sue un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies in China each year.

He said that in June, for the first time, all in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in the foun­da­tion pro­gram na­tion­wide took the com­ple­tion exam and the re­sults were en­cour­ag­ing.

“An over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of the stu­dents did well in the exam be­cause they re­ally felt mo­ti­vated to study dur­ing the one-year pro­gram,” he said.

“We be­lieve that the pro­gram, to­gether with the exam, is a prac­ti­cal way to im­prove the over­all qual­ity of the Chi­nese Govern­ment Schol­ar­ship re­cip­i­ents.”

To bet­ter help the in­creas­ing num­ber of re­cip­i­ents get to know more about China, last year the China Schol­ar­ship Coun­cil launched an event called Feel­ing the en­ergy of China.

“Study­ing and liv­ing in China, one of the most fast-devel­op­ing and dy­namic na­tions in the world, stu­dents are not con­tent with a su­per­fi­cial un­der­stand­ing of the coun­try,” Wang said.

“Apart from cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence, stu­dents also want to ex­plore more places away from their cam­puses and they want to dis­cover the rea­sons be­hind China’s rapid de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

More than 3,000 re­cip­i­ents of the schol­ar­ship took part in the event. They wit­nessed China’s high-speed trains be­ing made, vis­ited man­u­fac­tur­ers in­clud­ing the Haier and Sany groups, and went to live in the coun­try­side for a few­days.

The num­ber of the schol­ar­ship par­tic­i­pants this year is ex­pected to ex­ceed more than 6,000, Wang said.

WANG ZHUANGFEI / CHINA DAILY

In­ter­na­tional stu­dents from South­west Univer­sity in Chongqing learn how to use a tra­di­tional Chi­nese mill to pro­duce flour at a mu­seum in the city.

Wang Sheng­gang, deputy sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the China Schol­ar­ship Coun­cil

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