Chinese universities have agreed to expand annual enrollments of ethnic minority students from the tension-fraught western region of Xinjiang to 10,000 by 2020, up from the current school year's 6,800.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Sunday that the plans were drawn up this weekend at an education conference organized by the education ministry and a central commission on ethnic affairs.

It says 323 colleges and universities have signed an agreement to take in more students from Xinjiang, home to the Muslim minority of Uighurs (WEE-gurs).

Ethnic conflicts have left hundreds of people dead in and outside Xinjiang in the past few years.

While Beijing vows to crack down on the violence, it promises to give local residents more educational and employment opportunities.