Sending their children to university is the major hope of many Chinese families.
But continuous increases in tuition fees are making it increasingly difficult for some families.
For a girl surnamed Tao living on the outskirts of Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, hearing that she will be admitted to a famous local university brought a burden to her family.
Tao said she would pay 5,850 yuan (US$710) in tuition for the coming school year, along with the 800 to 1200 yuan (US$97-145) accommodation fees and additional charges of 1,360 yuan (US$165).
These fees account for almost half of her father's annual income, not to mention costs for textbooks and daily living expenses.
Many universities in Wuhan have increased their tuition fees by almost 30 per cent this year.
At the prestigious Wuhan University, tuition fees for art design and broadcasting are 9,000 yuan (US$1,100) a year, and 7,500 yuan (US$910) for medicine.
The university charges 5,850 yuan (US$710) a year for more than 60 majors, and 4,500 yuan (US$540) for another 20 programs.
However, the average tuition fee at the university was 4,500 yuan last year, equal to the lowest charges this year, says the report.
The Hubei Provincial Prices Bureau claimed that the tuition fee rises were the result of the universities' increased costs.
But some parents complained about the charges, saying the fee standards were set without taking their real-life situation into account. Others have argued that educational quality has not improved much even though the fees have increased.
An unnamed analyst voiced his opinion on people.com.cn, saying a public hearing is needed on tuition fee rises, since ever-increasing tuition fees are too heavy a burden for many Chinese college students and their parents.
(China Daily August 16, 2004)