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No Changes in Tuition under CPI Pressure
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The consumer price index (CPI) – a key gauge of inflation – hit a 10-year high of 5.6 percent in July and rose by an average of 3.5 percent in the first seven months of the year. Rising food costs contributed an increase of 2.9 percentage points, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Public concern over recent soaring CPI has provoked fear that tuition fees will also rise. To date, education authorities in Guangxi Autonomous Region have managed not to raise their education fees.

Information from local authorities indicates that the average fees ran about 12,000 yuan (US$150) per academic year. But in fact, college charges ranged from 5,000 yuan (US$625) to 6,000 yuan (US$750).

Meanwhile, the average ratio of students from impoverished families in Guangxi"s colleges has reached 10 percent.

"Under CPI pressure, the school needs to try its best to ease the financial burden of their students," stressed Huang Zhaokang, headmaster of the Guangxi Polytechnic Institute of Construction. "Bank pressures and a population of 5.5 percent impoverished students are heavy burdens for us. The school"s primary income derives from tuition fees, accommodations and meals."

He said that in order to stabilize the price of meals served in its canteens in the wake of recent hikes in food prices, the school has lowered rent for cafeteria contractors in order to reduce their costs.

To get more financial support, he admitted that the school has initiated larger activities and charged training courses.

Due to the stable and bearable fees, the students welcomed these policies.

Other schools have also cut their school fees. "Last year, when I was a freshman, my tuition was 5,800 yuan, but this year it was cut to 5,000 yuan," said Zhu Hua, a sophomore from the Guangxi Vocational College of Technology and Business.

"My mother feels so happy and surprised. All prices have risen yet my fees are lower than before," she added.

About 800 yuan (US$100) may seem inconsequential to some but it represents her entire family"s living expenses.

"Even only one cent means too much for the students from impoverished families," said Teacher Qin from the Guilin University of Technology. "Poor students often have to work many part-time jobs to earn their tuition fees. Stabilizing campus prices is really helpful for them."

The regional education departments are planning to launch a campaign to examine fees in schools.

(China.org.cn by Wang Ke, September 11, 2007)

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