BEIJING — Chinese universities are slashing tuition fees this year, with some making their first increases in 20 years, hurt by a reduced national budget for tertiary education and tight local government finances.
The higher fees come amid a financial crisis in local governments after three years of disruptive covid-19 policies, a real estate crisis and a sluggish economy. Chinese universities, almost all public, rely heavily on government funding.
The Shanghai-based East China University of Science and Technology increased tuition by 54 percent to 7,700 yuan ($1,460) a year for some freshmen majoring in science, engineering and physical education, and by 30 percent in liberal arts , according to statements issued Sunday.
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Science and engineering tuition fees are up 40 percent at Shanghai Dianji University, while students majoring in management, economics and literature pay 30 percent more compared to a year earlier, according to a Monday report.
In April, after a public hearing, the Shanghai Financial Center decided to raise tuition fees – unchanged for more than 20 years – for the academic year starting this fall.
China’s populous provinces in southwestern Sichuan and northeastern Jilin also increased tuition fees for several majors, with a maximum increase of as much as 41 percent in Sichuan, according to local government statements.
The Ministry of Education’s projected budget expenditures for tertiary education in 2023 fell 3.7 percent to 102.6 billion yuan from the previous year, according to a budget report from the ministry.
A research team led by higher education experts also called for a comprehensive increase in tuition fees for international students in May, according to a study led by Beijing Institute of Technology professor Liu Jin.
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The study proposed increasing tuition fees for international students from about 20,000 yuan to as much as 110,000 yuan per year. REUTERS