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Foreign students should be entitled to an education subsidy or not?

Foreign students should not be entitled to an education subsidy just because of their nationality, says an article in the Beijing Times. Excerpts:

The education administration department of Jiangsu province passed a promotional plan to encourage foreigners to study at the province’s colleges. Each foreign student could qualify for a 50,000 yuan ($8,333) to 90,000 yuan annual subsidy during their time in Jiangsu.

The policy has generated widespread debate over its rationality and fairness as the national education authority is seeking comments from the public on a possible hike in college tuition fees for domestic students.

The Jiangsu government said the main goal is to attract more foreign students and make Jiangsu the province with the most in China.

Funding comes mainly from a government scholarship. The government’s generosity toward foreigners with local taxpayers’ money is in sharp contrast to the difficulty of poor Chinese students applying for government grants.

The average subsidy received from various sources per Chinese student last year was about 1,500 yuan. The tuition fee is a heavy burden for many families. The “super-national” treatment of foreign students appears irrational against this backdrop.

In many developed countries, the distribution of scholarships by key universities is based on student merits. It does not make sense to reward foreign students with the bonus, irrespective of performance, potential and character.

The discriminative policy is ruining the foundation of fairness in education. China’s tuition fee and living costs are lower than many other countries. It is better to attract foreign students through good education and research carried out by the universities, not blind government scholarships.