On March 5, Premier Li Keqiang’s government work report put forward a plan to raise national grants for PhD candidates. Only a month later, the plan has become reality.
The move adds 3,000 yuan ($435) each year to the previous standard of national grants for PhD candidates.
So far, many universities have raised the grants standard, including Xi’an Jiaotong University, Central University of Finance and Economics, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and Dalian Maritime University.
According to a joint circular issued by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education, starting from this spring, national grants standard will be raised for full-time PhD candidates, among whom students at central universities - universities directly under State Council ministries - will receive 15,000 yuan each year, while students at local universities will receive no less than 13,000 yuan each year.
The plan was set in motion with a seminar presided over by the Premier two months ago.
At the seminar on Jan 16, Premier Li was presented with suggestions by people from education, science and technology, culture, health, and sports, who submitted their ideas for the government work report.
The PhD grant issue was raised by Shi Yigong, vice-president of Tsinghua University, suggesting improvement in the grants standard for PhD candidates, who he said are reserve forces for the future.
Premier Li took the advice, saying that Shi’s suggestion is very important and related money should be granted to the students.
He then urged the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education to work on the issue.
Two aspects should be considered for the issue. On the one hand, the basic grant standard for PhD students should be improved, as the previous standard of 1,000 yuan per month was too low. On the other hand, competitive mechanism should also be introduced, the Premier said at the meeting.
“I was so encouraged and touched that the Premier gave a direct answer to the issue right at the meeting,” Shi said after the meeting.