China's top business school will start independent admission, with a focus on taking in more students from rural areas in its undergraduate program.
The Guanghua School of Management at Peking University will enroll 30 to 50 students through its newly launched independent admission program in 2012, said Gong Liutang, associate dean of the school, during a news conference on Wednesday.
"Among them we hope to have 30 percent from rural areas, making 15 to 20 percent of the school total," he said, adding rural students comprised less than 10 percent of the total numbers in the school at the moment.
Candidates selected from those attending the university's independent admission program - based on written examination and comprehension test scores - would be called to an interview. One out of six will get admission to the school, known for drawing the country's best students.
"This is the first time that a school is involved in the independent recruitment program," said Qin Chunhua, chief of the university admission office.
"In 2003, the Ministry of Education started trial programs of independent recruitment at some of the universities. Now Guanghua School of Management will get involved in the process and pick the best fits."
Referring to the drive to admit more students from rural areas, Cai Hongbin, dean of Guanghua School of Management, said, "We hope this contributes to education equity."
"The country's education resources tend to be over centralized. Through this act, we hope to draw public attention to education equity."
While the national average of rural population in universities was about 50 percent, when it came to leading universities, it was less than 20 percent, said Xiong Bingqi, vice-chief of the 21st Century Education Research Institute.
"This means the rural population now has growing chances to receive higher education, but the numbers are still limited in the best schools," he said.
Echoing Cai, Xiong said unequal distribution of education resources led to the situation, which, he believed, "could be improved through independent recruitment".
He said notching up the percentage of rural students to 30 was feasible. A transparent recruitment process and public supervision were the key factors to make the plan work, he said.
Over the years, the country's talent searching methods are growing more diverse.
The national college entrance examination, begun since 1977 and now taking place every June, used to be the sole standard of student selection.
The introduction of independent admissions in 2003 provided an alternate way of seeking out talents. The exam now precedes the national college entrance examination.
In November, the Ministry of Education promised to promote multiple measures to spot talented young people for higher education. "Encouraging universities to select students based on an independent criteria is an important supplement to the country's college entrance exams system," the government notice said.