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School fee scandal triggers Web uproar
By admin on 2014-12-02

    BEIJING, Feb. 22 -- The publication of a list of eight education institutions charging exorbitant tuition fees totaling 22.7 million yuan (US$3 million) has triggered an uproar in Internet chat rooms of China's leading Web sites.

    Netizens vented their anger by swamping the Sina and Sohu Internet portals and Xinhua News Agency's Web site with tens of thousands of messages, after the names of the four colleges and four middle schools surfaced on Web sites.

    Many people even posted the names of the schools they claimed had charged excessive fees from them or their children.

    A netizen from Zhongxian County in Chongqing Municipality said on that each student in an elite middle school in the county had to pay an additional 8,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan on top of the normal tuition fee, although farmers in the poverty-stricken county earned less than 1,000 yuan a year annually on average.

    The school was "squeezing out the last drop of blood from the poor farmers," the netizen said in an acerbic comment.

    Another one complained his child's classroom did not have drinking water or heating, even though the students had paid for both.

    Some urged the authorities to sack the school heads found charging arbitrary fees.

    The blacklist drawn by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Sunday drew different responses from the accused. South China University of Technology admitted it had overcharged its students 2.18 million yuan and promised to refund the money. However, Jiang Yuquan, director of the Student Administration Department of Nanjing Audit University, which was accused of charging an extra 1.64 million yuan illegally in 2004 and 2005, was furious at the accusation. "Bullshit," he responded.

    He said most of the alleged extra fees were in fact "contributions" from students who would not have been admitted if they did not pay more.

    The NDRC's blacklist, believed to be the country's first attempt to expose such schools, was one of the tougher measures taken by the Central Government to tackle the issue.

    For two years, the price of education has elicited the most complaints from the public, followed by high medical costs and soaring housing prices, according to an investigation by the NDRC.

    In the first seven months of 2005, about 23.8 percent of the total pricing complaints concerned arbitrary tuition fees, the NDRC said.

    "China, a country that traditionally prides itself on its education system, now faces an embarrassing problem in providing a satisfactory standard of schooling for its people," Xinhua News Agency said in a report yesterday.

    Arbitrary fees charged by schools and universities in recent years has become a major obstacle for students from medium and low-income families trying to receive an education.

    The NDRC, the Ministry of Education and the National Audit Office have taken joint measures, promising to fine schools and punish officials who set their own fees arbitrarily.

    The NDRC says the punishment of these schools is ongoing and encourages people to report arbitrary fees through the hot line 12358.

    Standardizing tuition fees is one of the measures taken to lower the expense of education, and exposing the offending schools acts as a major deterrent, Xinhua said, quoting "insiders."

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