Three hundred high-ranking Chinese officials are to be trained at Harvard University in the next five years, state media reported yesterday. The American university yesterday signed an agreement to train the officials at its prestigious John F. Kennedy School of Government. It is the first time the school has accepted such a large number of students from one country. Harvard signed the contract, with Beijing's Qinghua University and the Development and Research Centre of the State Council, in the Great Hall of the People. It will accept 60 students a year for five years. The programme is seen as part of the mainland's efforts to groom a new generation of English-speaking and computer-literate cadres. To apply, officials must have worked for local government at the rank of mayor or for the central Government as department chiefs or in more senior positions. They must hold university degrees, have been in their jobs for at least two years and be aged under 45. Those accepted will receive six weeks of training, first at Qinghua University and the Development and Research Centre, and then go to Harvard, where their main course of study will be public management and international development issues. Ira Jackson, director of the Kennedy School's Centre for Business and Government, said the school would help Qinghua University build its public administration degree. The school started to train Chinese officials in the early 1990s.