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Arbitrary Fees Total US$2.82 Mln
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Four colleges and four middle schools were in the spotlight yesterday for collecting arbitrary fees totaling 22.7 million yuan (US$2.82 million).


The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on its website that the findings were from the commission's third national inspection on arbitrary fees conducted between September and December 2005. The commission was still handling the cases, and no penalties have been handed out.


The largest violator among the eight schools reported was China Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, which overcharged 5.59 million yuan (US$694,600) from 932 art students last September by raising the standard 9,000 yuan (US$1,118) tuition fee to 15,000 yuan (US$1,860).


The other schools were:


South China University of Technology in south China's Guangdong Province, 2.18 million (US$270,900).


Nanjing Audit University in east China's Jiangsu Province, 1.64 million yuan (US$203,800).


Henan Normal University in central China's Henan Province, 1.17 million yuan (US$145,400). The money came from a 40 yuan (US$5) charge to each student for laundry.


No 1 Middle School in Nanchang, east China's Jiangxi Province, 1.68 million yuan (US$208,700).


No 2 Middle School in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province, 3.6 million yuan (US$447,300).


No 5 Middle School in north China's Shanxi Province, 3.39 million yuan (US$421,200).


Fenghua Middle School in east China's Zhejiang Province, 3.45 million yuan (US$428,700).


A commission official with the pricing supervision department, surnamed Chen, told China Daily yesterday in a telephone interview that "school principals might be removed from office and money should be paid pack to students."


Despite being banned by educational authorities, payment of arbitrary fees is still widespread in China because of an imbalance in the allocation of educational resources between wealthy and poor schools.


Ji Zhu, a professor from Beijing Technology and Business University, urged the government to increase spending on education to balance the resource allocation.


He said: "This is the only way to eradicate the problem."


Also, the results of a related survey by the Horizon Group, conducted in eight big cities and seven towns, were released earlier this month. They show that educational expenses and medical care fees are the two major factors that cause poverty.


The survey shows that for rural families with school-aged children, educational payments accounted for 32.6 percent of their total household income from October 2004 to September 2005.


(China Daily February 21, 2006)


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