[photopress:china__universities.jpg,full,alignright]Hu Sishe, an NPC deputy, stated that Chinese universities — which boast the largest number of students in the world — are threatened by a severe financial crisis. This a result of the rapid enrollment expansion since 1999.
Deputies to the National People’s Congress (NPC), the top legislature, were told that to cater for students who flock to campus for higher education, universities have to borrow huge sums of money.
Hu Sishe said, ‘As a far as I know, there is one university that owes banks RMB5 billion ($641 million). This means it must pay RMB300 million in interest every year. I don’t know how many students they have to enroll if they want to repay the money only with the tuition fees.’
Hu Sishe is also president of the Xi’an Foreign Studies University based in the northwestern province of Shaanxi. Hu did not give the name of the debt-ridden university.
According to other NPC deputies, the debt of universities has exceeded RMB10 billion in both Shandong and Jiangsu provinces in China’s fast developing eastern coast. As for the total amount of debts owed by Chinese universities put together it simply has not been revealed.
China’s higher educational institutions have been expanding rapidly following a government’s decision to enroll more university students in 1999. Now, according to the Ministry of Education, 5 million students are admitted to campus annually, compared with less than a million a decade ago.
Wang Bintai, an NPC deputy and director of Jiangsu Provincial Education Department said that to cope with the rapid expansion, many universities resorted to banks for huge loans to support construction of dormitories, dining halls and classrooms.
NPC deputy Zhou Hongxing, also a professor in Shandong University, called on the government to pay most of the bills of indebted universities.
He said, ‘Colleges and universities in China have made great contributions to the overall improvement of education in the country, and they deserve the financial support from government.’