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