A military medical university in Guangzhou was yesterday handed to the Guangdong provincial government as part of the People's Liberation Army attempt to streamline its operations. The transfer of the First Military Medical University was marked by a ceremony attended by provincial leaders, including party boss Zhang Dejiang and Governor Huang Huahua . Three more military universities in other parts of the country will be transferred to local governments by the end of the month. They are Junxu University in Jilin, which belongs to the General Logistics Department; the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing; and the Fourth Military Medical University in Xian, according to local media. After the handover yesterday, the 53-year-old institute was renamed the Southern Medical University. Deputy commandant Zheng Muming said the transfer was part of the army's efficiency drive. The People's Liberation Army had gone from 4 million members in 1985 to its current 2.3 million, but the supporting military institutes had not been reduced to match, he said. The university incorporates two reputable military establishments in Guangzhou - Nanfang and Zhujiang hospitals. The transfer was welcomed by medical experts and students. Zhou Zhongfu, a former Guangdong Health and Quarantine Bureau director, said the addition of a top medical institute would strengthen the province's medical resources. 'Guangdong already has a number of top medical institutes. Nanfang University's joining in can further bolster the province's medical technologies, teaching resources and facilities,' Dr Zhou said. A fourth-year undergraduate said that handing the hospital to the provincial government would allow students to spend more time on their studies. 'Our university attached great importance to discipline,' he said. 'Now we may be able to concentrate on our studies.'