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Better colleges, higher fees
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-29 01:34

South China's Guangdong Province is planning to give more decision-making power to its universities and colleges in collecting tuition and fees in the coming years.

This indicates that the province's institutions of higher learning that have achieved greater academic achievements and have reached higher teaching standards and better learning environments, or offer hot specialties that provide higher expectations for future employment, can require students to pay higher tuition and fees for those benefits.

If approved by higher authorities, Guangdong will become the first region in the country to allow its universities and colleges to decide tuition fees by themselves, according to an official from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Education.

The move aims to help build some local universities and colleges in the southern Chinese province into so-called "brand name" ones.

And these universities and colleges will be able to compete with other domestic and overseas prestigious counterparts, the official told China Daily Tuesday.

Under a market mechanism, the tuition gap between brand-name universities and ordinary ones will be further enlarged, the official added.

But he refused to give more details on the fees.

Currently, a university student in Guangdong is usually required to pay about 3,000 yuan (US$360) every school term. And students from different universities and specialized subjects almost always pay the same tuition.

While allowing its big-name universities to collect more, Guangdong will expand its investment in higher education and conduct even more academic exchanges between Guangdong's universities and their foreign counterparts in the coming years.

And priorities will be given to the province's key universities and colleges.

Luo Weiqi, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Education, said Guangdong will spend more than 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) annually to help recruit prestigious university teachers, professors and experts from around the world to help further raise the province's academic standard and the educational level in the years ahead.

And Guangdong encourages local professors and teachers to be recruited in more than one university or college, Luo said.

Guangdong, which lacks university teachers, has to annually recruit many teachers and professors from around the country.

And the provincial bureau of education will also establish a data bank for university teachers and professors later this year to help local institutions of higher learning to recruit teachers and conduct academic exchanges between universities.

Guangdong would also take bolder steps in reforming its higher education this year.

All the province's universities and colleges will be required to introduce a credit system, Luo said.

Under the system, students can choose the subjects they are interested in, or the teachers and professors they like.

Meanwhile the students can also select a longer period to study their specialties in the universities, Luo said.

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