Established in the year 1903 in the will of Cecil Rhodes, Rhodes Scholarships is now looking forward to expand its horizon to more developing countries and will soon include the names of scholars from China as well, the administrative trust confirmed recently.
On 30th March 2015, the organization that administers this prestigious grant program stated that they are now preparing to include scholars from China along with other developing countries. This initiative is a part of an international push and biggest expansion to reform the grant program since after it made women eligible in 70s.
This expansion is all about cultivating a more diverse crop of talented young minds from different backgrounds who are likely to become future leaders in their nations, adding to a list that includes Nobel Prize recipients, former President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia.
With its expansion into China, this grant program is focusing to create a new platform to raise money after it experiencing financial crises in recent years. But, most of the alumni firmly believe that this expansion is quite late now and there are also few concerns about whether the Communist Party will try to put pressure on the selection process so as to reject the university students who are considered to be as critical of the government, according to authorities.
However, Charles Conn who looks after the scholarship program and is a former Rhodes scholars from USA expressed that the concerns that are explained related to possible political interference in China is dismissed.
He also added that China is going to play a crucial international role in 21st century and it will be reflected in global footprints of Rhodes Scholarships.
The organization that administers this grant program also announced that the names of students selected for Rhodes Scholarships will be revealed this year and they will enter Oxford University for higher education in 2016 session.
The author and national correspondent of The Atlantic, Mr. James Fallows, who was also a Rhodes Scholar in 1970, said that everyone is having high hopes for the expansion program into China, but there is a worry related to the possible political interference and threats.
Emphasizing on the political interference issue, Mr. Conn said on a telephonic interview that, this is not the first rodeo they are playing, instead several Rhodes scholars are selected every year from different parts of the world, including Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India, South Africa and much more, even during at difficult times in their history. This indicates that the Rhodes Trust never cares about the political interferences of nations they only focus on selecting ethical and energetic young scholars.
Mr. Conn further said in a statement announcing the expansion that Chinese government has nothing to do with the selection or approval process. By the fall of 2015 the first group of scholars from China is expected to get selected. A group will have around 3-6 students. If the trust manages to raise sufficient funds then as many as 32 scholars could be selected annually, equal to the number of scholars selected every year from United States, the member of trust confirmed.
The prestigious grant program already received major commitment from wealthy Chinese and Hong Kong businessmen, which include a foundation set-up by Asia’s wealthiest man, Li Ka-Shing. The members of Rhodes Trust said that they are working with the grandson of former President Jiang Zemin of China, Mr. Alvin Jiang and a co-founder of China’s biggest private equity firm to search more donations in China.