Prize money of 415,000 yuan is up for grabs for aspiring Chinese mathematics students from around the world, in a push to improve maths studies in the Chinese-speaking world. The New World Mathematics Awards, set up by the International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians and funded by Hong Kong-based New World Development Company, is now open to applications from Chinese university students around the world, including maths PhD candidates. Two such PhD candidates will be given the top prize of 70,000 yuan each every three years based on their research and the quality of their dissertations or essays. There are two other awards, for master's students and undergraduates. Applications will close on October 30 and an awards ceremony will be held in Hangzhou , Zhejiang province , on December 17. The award comes as some renowned maths educators expressed dismay at the poor quality of mathematics studies, due to inadequate teaching standards. Congress chairman Yau Shing-tung said mathematics learning among Chinese students overseas and mainland students had been lagging behind that of their peers in the US and Europe. Professor Yau dismissed as a misconception the idea that mainland students perform much better in mathematics studies, adding that the overall level of maths teaching on the mainland was poor. The professor said he hoped the award would serve to cultivate Chinese students' interests in mathematics studies and improve the quality of maths teaching. He said the New World Mathematics Award was nothing like the International Mathematics Olympics, which had become a full-time training programme in which students learned little beyond maths. He also urged the public to leave nine-year-old maths prodigy March Boedihardjo alone so he could live 'a normal life'.