Chinese universities are drastically increasing tuition fees this year, with some making their first rises in two decades, hurt by a reduced national budget for tertiary education and tight local government finances.
The higher fees come amid a financial crunch among local governments after three years of disruptive Covid-19 policies, a property crisis and a sluggish economy. Chinese universities, almost all public, rely heavily on state funding.
Shanghai-based East China University of Science and Technology raised tuition fees by 54% to US$1,082 (about RM5,000) annually for some freshmen majoring in science, engineering and physical education, and by 30% in the liberal arts, according to statements issued on Sunday.
Tuition for science and engineering rose by 40% at Shanghai Dianji University, while students majoring in management, economics and literature will have to pay 30% more compared with a year earlier, according to a notice on Monday.
In April, the financial hub of Shanghai decided after a public hearing to raise tuition - unchanged for over 20 years - for the academic year starting this autumn.
China's densely populated southwestern Sichuan and northeastern Jilin provinces also raised tuition for different majors, with the maximum increase as much as 41% in Sichuan, according to local government statements.
The education ministry's expected budget expenditure for tertiary education in 2023 fell 3.7% to 102.6 billion yuan from the previous year, according to a budget report from the ministry.
A research team led by senior education experts last month also called for an extensive increase in university tuition for international students, according to a study led by Beijing Institute of Technology professor Liu Jin.
The study suggested increasing tuition fees for international students to as much as 110,000 yuan per year from about 20,000 yuan.