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Laid-off worker to study for his PhD

A 38-YEAR-OLD man from Liaoning Province is to be the first student allowed to study for a PhD at Fudan University with just a high school diploma since the national academic degree system was implemented in 1981.

Cai Wei, a laid-off worker with a profound knowledge of literature, applied for its ancient Chinese classical literature course and will be admitted in June.

China's Ministry of Education approved Cai's application under the recommendation of three Chinese classical literature experts.

The course Cai applied for only admits four students and Cai was one of the four picked from another 22 applicants.

"Many professional experts cannot compete with him at classical literature," said Qiu Xigui, one of the experts who backed his application and who will be his teacher.

Qiu discovered Cai's talent through letters Cai wrote to him. Qiu even quoted Cai's understanding of ancient works in a book, which greatly encouraged Cai.

Cai's interest in classical Chinese literature started in primary school. He read lots of classical pieces and his knowledge of ancient Chinese works greatly exceeded other students. But he failed to get into university as he was poor at math and English.

He worked in a rubber factory after leaving high school in 1991 but kept up his interest in literature.

When he was laid off he earned a living selling cigarettes and driving a tricycle.

After learning of his circumstances, Qiu invited him to come to the university to join a research project on ancient texts.

"I had never dreamed of becoming a university student, not to mention a PhD student," Cai said.


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