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October 31, 2009

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Army widens university drive

STUDENTS at 13 private universities in Beijing will become eligible for recruitment into the People's Liberation Army for the first time this year.

A statement from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education said private university students could apply to enlist in the PLA directly.

This brings the total of Beijing higher education institutions that are open to direct recruitment to 88. The other 75 are all state-run colleges.

Recruiting stations in Beijing reportedly have received applications from about 2,500 college graduates and 600 undergraduate students.

If recruited, every graduate soldier is eligible for a one-off refund on their college fees of up to 15,000 yuan (US$2,197).

This was one of the preferential policies announced this year to encourage Chinese graduates to enlist.

They will have more opportunities for promotion and enrolment in military academies. After finishing two years of compulsory service, they are promised preferential treatment with police and other law-enforcement agencies.

The PLA usually recruits men aged 18 to 20 and women aged 18 or 19, but the age limit can be raised to 24 for those with bachelor degrees. The PLA previously relied mostly on high school graduates and the unemployed, although all men aged 18 to 22 are obliged to undergo two years of service according to the country's conscription law.

Most college students take part in a month of military training.

China's State Council, or Cabinet, revised the government's recruitment regulations in September 2001 to enlist college students for the first time in a pilot scheme. More than 2,000 students were recruited that year.

The move to recruit more college graduates has been seen as a step to strengthen the PLA's technological expertise.

A Defense Ministry survey in July found that 1.44 million male graduates expressed interest in military service.


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