In response to higher education budget cuts and tighter financial restrictions imposed by local governments, universities in China have agreed to significantly increase tuition fees for the upcoming academic year. This marks the first time in two decades that many universities have opted to raise their tuition fees.
The surge in tuition fees comes as local governments grapple with financial shortages. The implementation of policies aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 for the past three years, coupled with challenges such as the real estate crisis and a sluggish economy, have strained university budgets, particularly those of government-funded institutions.
East China University of Science and Technology, located in Shanghai, recently announced a tuition fee increase of approximately 54%. New students studying science, engineering, and physical education will now have to pay 7,700 yuan ($1,082) per year, reflecting a substantial hike. Similarly, tuition fees for liberal arts students at the university have risen by about 30%.
Shanghai Dianji University has also witnessed significant fee increases. Science and engineering students now face a 40% hike, while students studying management, economics, and literature will experience a 30% increase compared to the previous year.
Several provinces in China, including Sichuan in southwestern China and Jilin in northeastern China, have raised tuition fees across various disciplines. Sichuan Province recorded the highest increase at 41%.
The Chinese Ministry of Education’s budget report reveals a 3.7% decrease in the budget for higher education in 2023, amounting to 1.026 trillion yuan, compared to the previous year.
Moreover, a study conducted by Professor Liu Jin and a team of higher education experts from the Beijing Institute of Technology has called for an increase in tuition fees for international students, further highlighting the financial challenges faced by universities.
As universities in China grapple with budget cuts, the decision to raise tuition fees aims to mitigate the impact of reduced funding. However, this move could potentially place additional financial burden on students and their families, while also raising concerns about accessibility and affordability of higher education.