The Economic Times: Chinese universities are planning to increase their tuition by five-fold

A study from the Beijing Institute of Technology showed that the international tuiton fees could be increased by up to five times their existing price. This is being done to help compete Chinese universities with other colleges abroad and to increase the quality of Chinese higher education.

Jun 11, 2023 The Economic Times

The major of students in China come from countries including South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan and India, as well as a significant proportion from the US.

According to the study, students are attracted to study in China because of its relatively low tuiton fee. Currently, international students pay around 20,000 yuan per year ($2,807) to study in Chinese universities, but the research suggests that this could be increased to 100,000 yuan ($14,000).

The Chinese government is giving the study “serious consideration”, reported the South China Morning Post.

Grace Zhu, China branch director at BONARD, said the move could “potentially bring in more revenue for Chinese universities, which could be used to reinvest in infrastructure, research, and other aspects of the educational system”.

“This could help attract more students in the long term by improving the quality of education and facilities,” Zhu added.

However she also warned it may cause China to lose students in the short term.

“One of the reasons why many students from countries like Pakistan and Thailand choose to study in China is because of the relatively low cost of education compared to other destinations,” she said. “If fees are raised too high, it could make it difficult for some students to afford studying here.”

China’s drive to attract overseas students has been ongoing as part of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has seen China invest in global infrastructure and engagement, as well as offering scholarships to students from target countries.

Zhu suggested a gradual increase in fees, which would help students adjust to the changes while allowing Chinese institutions to compete with top-ranked universities in other countries.

“Ultimately, we would need to attract and recruit more international students with certain diversity to enhance China’s position and importance as [a] studying abroad destination,” Zhu said.

Some Chinese universities have raised domestic tuition fees by up to 54% this year as a response to a fall in government spending on tertiary education, Reuters reported.

It comes as Xi spoke in May about the need to improve the attractiveness of China’s education system to recruit more international students and counteract the number of Chinese young people leaving the country to study abroad.

He reportedly said the development of world-class universities should be prioritised. He added that the study in China brand should be “vigorously” promoted “to enhance the international influence and discourse power of our country’s education”.

President Xi has also stressed on the importance of universities developing courses that meet the country’s strategic needs as the China’s youth unemployment rate hit a new high of over 20% in April.

According to analysis by Goldman Sachs, one of the reasons behind this is “mismatches between skillset graduates acquired from their higher education and skillset required by employers in industry”.

Analysts said this “might have caused frictions in the labour market and therefore contributed to high youth unemployment rate”.

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