“In 2018, nearly 100 million students from low-income families received financial aid, indicating almost full coverage of student financial aid programs which have proved to be an effective means to ensure educational equity,” said Zhao Jianjun, Vice Director-General of the MOE’s Department of Finance, at a press conference held by the MOE on July 10 in Lanzhou.
Zhao noted that China had established and was continuing to improve the government-led student funding policy system which provides full coverage for students at all levels of education, from preschool to postgraduate education. Since the beginning of this year, the MOE has extended the coverage of this system to non-military students admitted to military colleges, improved the standards of state grants for secondary vocational education, and modified policies on living allowances for compulsory education students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It has also issued a notice on adjusting vocational education scholarships and grants, with specific allocation plans to be released for local implementation very soon.
Highlighting the importance of precision in providing student financial aid, Zhao said that this had been maintained in the identification of target students, and the standards, allocation and timing of funding. Last year, the MOE and five other authorities jointly issued the Guidance on the Identification of Students with Financial Difficulties, which outlines the principles, basis and processes for identifying eligible students. The MOE has also continued to improve allocation mechanisms by abandoning the “one-size-fits-all” approach, and prioritizing deeply impoverished areas, the HEIs dedicated to ethnic minorities and those with a high proportion of low-income students which feature disciplines mostly needed by the country such as agriculture, forestry, water resources, mining, petroleum and nuclear science, and students from families registered under the National Anti-Poverty Information Network System (NAPINS).
Zhao added that sources of financial aid included government funding (accounting for the largest share), operating income from education institutions and social funding. In higher education for example, in 2018, student aid programs at higher education level provided a total of 115 billion RMB, benefiting 43.88 million students. Of the total investment, 53 billion RMB was from government funding, 27.9 billion RMB from HEI operating income and 34.1 billion RMB from other sources (including student loans issued by banks, and funding from social organizations, enterprises and individual contributions), accounting for 46.1%, 24.2%, and 29.7%, respectively.