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Chinese oppose tuition hikes, demand transparency: survey

Aug 07, 2014
BEIJING, July 26 -- An online survey published Thursday showed a majority of Chinese oppose college tuition increases and want colleges to reveal their financial situations.

About 76.1 percent of 2,083 survey respondents clearly opposed recent increases in college tuition, according to a report on the survey.

The survey was conducted by the research department of the China Youth Daily, a major newspaper, together with the consulting firm ePanel.

About 78.9 percent of those surveyed had already graduated from college, while 8.1 percent are college students and 56 percent of respondents have college students in their families, according to the report.

In July 2013, China's Ministry of Education lifted a ban on tuition hikes. Since then, a number of provinces, including Shandong, Fujian, Hubei, Guizhou and Guangxi as well as Tianjin Municipality, have raised the standard tuition for public colleges.

Earlier this month, east China's Zhejiang Province held a public hearing on a policy to increase college tuition by the maximum 15 percent.

Authorities have argued that college tuition had not increased in at least five years and many public colleges are having financial difficulties.

However, about 82 percent of survey respondents said students are overcharged and only 0.8 percent thought tuition levels are low.

According to the government regulation on college tuition, tuition should be no more than 25 percent of colleges' average costs per student.

Some provinces have not followed the rules. For instance, in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, average annual tuition is 5,077 yuan (824 U.S. dollars), or 35 percent of the average cost to educate a college student in the region.

Prof. Zhang Shaoxiong with Central South University said that higher tuition will stop needy students from going to college.

Wang Tian, a sophomore in Guangxi, was quoted by the China Youth Daily as saying that tuition at his college increased by 1,000 yuan from 2013 to 2014.

Wang, who is from a needy family, said he receives government assistance of 2,500 yuan annually while tuition is about 4,000 yuan per year.

"If tuition continues to rise, I don't know how I will manage," he said.
On the other hand, colleges are complaining about the increase of faculty salaries, currency inflation and the cost of facilities.

"A teacher in our college is paid 60 yuan per hour for class time, up from 20 yuan a few years ago," said Zeng Jing, a college teacher in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, which is also considering raising tuition. "The increase in cost is inevitable," Zeng said.

Even though the increase appears necessary, people are demanding to know the financial status of colleges.

About 77.7 percent of respondents in the survey said that colleges should publicize their costs before moving to raise tuition.

Others have pointed out that colleges' financial difficulties are not necessarily related to an increase in student costs.

Zeng Junsen, assistant research fellow with the Hunan Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua that many colleges are overstaffed and spend excessively on updating infrastructure, which leads to their financial problems.
"These problems should not be covered by students," Zeng said.

To ease the financial plight of colleges, 68 percent of survey respondents suggested more government spending. The second most popular solution, recommended by 66.9 percent of respondents, was for colleges to cut spending on receptions, public vehicles and overseas trips for faculty.

Experts suggested that colleges should regularly publish their budgets and expenses to win the public's trust, and education departments should fully consult and inform the public before tuition policies are made.

[From Xinhua]
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