September 1 is the momentous day when students register at their
universities. This day symbolizes the start of a new semester and
this day inevitably evokes mixed feelings: hopes, dreams, fears,
jubilation and anxiety.
This academic year the government has stipulated that without
the formal approval of Chinese educational authorities, tuition
fees and accommodations cannot be raised arbitrarily. So what is
the current situation?
No rise in public universities
September 5 witnessed the freshman Zhao Jing's first day as a
student in the Economics Department of the Renmin University of
China. She had previously applied for the state educational loans
to cover her 5,000 yuan tuition (US$625) and 800 yuan accommodation
Her father said: "Both of my children are in college now. Zhao
Jing has an older sister who was enrolled in the Northern
University for Nationalities in the Ningxia Autonomous Region two
years ago. My family has to spend more than 10,000 yuan (about
US$1250) on her education and necessities every year. For all four
years, we will need more than 50,000 yuan (US$6250)."
"Thanks to the government's policy, the educational fees have
not been raised. Even so, we almost cannot bear to pay them as they
are now," he added.
Bai Xiaohua's family hails from the rural areas around Shenzhou
City in Hebei Province. Their children's tuition fees are really a
heavy burden as well. Having two college students and depending
solely on their 20 mu farmland (15 mus equal one hectare), the
family also cannot afford higher tuition charges.
"Our tuition hasn't been raised," said Liu Dan, a senior student
enrolled in the Advertisement Department of Nanjing University. "I
will graduate next year, but my fees are the same as they were the
A senior student from the Journalism and Communication School in
Peking University stated that instead of an increase, her fees have
actually been reduced from 5300 yuan (US$662.5) for the first and
second years to 50,000 yuan (US$6250) for the following two
According to the Ministry of Education, public university fees
in 2006 have remained at the same level as they were six years
To respond to general public concern that the recent soaring
Consumer Price Index (CPI) would cause an increase in education
fees, Assistant Minister of the Education Yang Zhoufu explained
that because educational charges are made on the basis of
regulations issued by the government in 1996, there is no direct
relationship between the CPI and school tuition.
Yang also stressed that if the CPI continues to rise, the
government will earmark more money for education in order to
balance the negative influence. In effect, people still need not
worry about the rise in the cost of education.
Fees in private schools rocketing
According to the China Youth Daily, students with different
majors enrolled in a private school in Hunan Province have
complained that their fees have increased by about 500 yuan
Meanwhile, fees in many schools around the Chongqing
Municipality are also mounting, ranging from 500 yuan to 2000 yuan
Parents and students all criticized the fact that private and
independent schools have violated the government's May 2007
However, a ministry spokesperson confirmed that the regulation
does not cover non-public schools. If formally approved by local
price control authorities, these colleges have the right to raise
A survey conducted by Professor Cai Yanhou from the Central
South University showed that in 2006 the average tuition fees for
science in independent schools was 12,217 yuan (US$1527) while
charges for the arts reached 12,034 yuan (US$1504). Private schools
charged respectively 11,100 yuan (US$1388) and 10,500 yuan
Professor Cai stressed that because governmental financial
supports are lacking, these schools have had to shift the extra
cost onto their students. He suggested that the government should
balance the education curriculum to resolve this issue.
Students also complained that schools have cut corners in some
training programs or in courses to reduce expenses.
Yang, a sophomore from an independent school in Jiangsu
Province, said that although his fees stayed at the same level
during his four college years, the school's military training,
widely considered by Chinese public universities to be an essential
part of college life, was canceled.
"This difficult exercise would have been helpful for us all. My
classmates agree. I think it was already covered by our
fees," he added.
(China.org.cn by Wang Ke, September 10, 2007)