According to this year’s college admission plan, 12,100 vacancies are allocated for students from 680 poverty-stricken counties in 21 provincial areas. Residents in these counties had an annual per capita income of 2,676 yuan (418.37 U.S. dollars) last year, about half the national average.
High school graduates from the impoverished counties are given preferential treatment, a move interpreted by many to counterbalance the country’s regional discrepancy in education quality. More than 10,000 graduates from the counties will benefit from the policy this year.
Statistics from the Ministry of Education show that the national average admission rate in some leading universities last year was 8.5 percent, while the number in the 680 impoverished counties was 5.7 percent.
Barely able to make ends meet, families in the impoverished counties often send their teenage children to relatively developed coastal provinces, such as Zhejiang and Guangdong, to find a job.
Statistics from the ministry showed that about 9.15 million people this year sat the college entrance exam to vie for 6.85 million vacancies in the country’s universities and colleges, while the number of applicants from poverty-striken regions stood at 1.3 million.
It is estimated that this year’s admission rate is 75 percent, which is up nearly 3 percent year on year, and the number of exam takers is down 2 percent.
Rural education, which often lags behind that of the city, reduces the the chances of countryside students attending good universities.
Wu Yongming, vice chairman of the Jiangxi Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said that those who have been enrolled by prestigious universities through the program should be encouraged to go back to their birthplaces to find employment or start a business after graduation, which could bridge the country’s east-west gap.