China Tuition Ban – Will Singapore do the Same?
Overview of China Tuition Ban
In July 2021, the Chinese government has announced a crackdown on private tuition and tuition fees. Physical face-to-face tuition conducted outside of the school curriculum and hours were prohibited, and tuition fees were reduced, in an effort to make education more affordable and accessible to all. The move follows a series of reports from the Ministry of Education that found tuition fees had been rising at an alarming rate in recent years, putting an increasing burden on families and students.
The new policy, which will take effect in September, will cap tuition fees for primary and secondary schools at 1,500 yuan (about US$220) per semester. This is a significant reduction from the current average tuition fees of 3,000 yuan (about US$440) per semester.
The policy will also limit the amount of additional fees that schools can charge. These fees, which can include things like textbooks, uniforms, and other school-related expenses, will be capped at 500 yuan (about US$75) per semester.
The Chinese government has also announced that it will increase funding for primary and secondary schools in order to make up for the shortfall in tuition fees. This additional funding will be used to improve the quality of education and to ensure that all students have access to the same educational opportunities.
Under the new regulations, universities and other educational institutions will be required to keep tuition fees at a reasonable level. The Ministry of Education has also said that it will be monitoring tuition fees closely, and any institutions found to be charging excessive fees will face severe penalties.
The move has been welcomed by students and families across the country, who have long been struggling to keep up with the rising cost of education. It is hoped that the crackdown will make education more accessible to those from lower-income backgrounds, and help to reduce the burden of debt that many students face.
The crackdown is part of a wider effort by the Chinese government to improve access to education and reduce inequality. Other measures include increasing financial aid for students from lower-income backgrounds, and providing more scholarships and grants.
The Chinese government has launched a major crackdown on education, with authorities vowing to “resolutely eliminate” any illegal activities in the sector. The move follows a series of reports of illegal activities, including the sale of fake diplomas and the use of unqualified teachers.
The crackdown is being led by the Ministry of Education, which has ordered local governments to investigate and punish any illegal activities. The ministry has also ordered universities and colleges to strengthen their management and supervision of teachers and students.
In addition, the ministry has ordered schools to strengthen their management of student enrollment and to ensure that students are properly qualified. The ministry has also ordered schools to strengthen their management of student discipline and to ensure that students are not allowed to engage in any illegal activities.
The crackdown is part of a broader effort by the Chinese government to improve the quality of education in the country. The government has also ordered universities and colleges to increase their research and development efforts and to focus on producing more qualified graduates.
The crackdown is likely to have a significant impact on the education sector in China, with many schools and universities expected to face increased scrutiny and regulation. It remains to be seen how effective the crackdown will be in curbing illegal activities in the sector, but it is clear that the Chinese government is taking the issue seriously.
Outcome (1 year after crackdown)
Tuition industry insiders have said that it has not truly reduced burdens on Chinese students and their parents, as the competition for quality education remains fierce in a meritocratic society.
It is estimated that 90% of tutoring firms in Beijing have closed down – according to the ministry’s Off-Campus Education and Training Department, physical tuition services decreased to c. 9,500, compared to c. 120,000 before the crackdown.
In contrast, many parents are also paying more than ever before to keep their kids in private classes, fearing that they might lose their edge amid China’s competitive education system with little margin for error.
China’s ban on for-profit private tutoring has also forced educational businesses to pivot to virtual live streaming and hardware, as the policy shift outlawed off-campus physical face-to-face tutoring outside of schooling hours.
However, undercover investigations have found that a large black market for academic tutoring has emerged in the wake of the ban, mainly catering to wealthy, well-connected families. As such, children from privileged backgrounds have an easier time of getting ahead as parent are determined to do whatever it takes to compete in China’s brutally competitive education system.
Before the ban, one parent was paying c. 20,000 yuan a year for group tuition classes at the tuition center, but is now paying c. 40,000 yuan a year for three-on-one private classes.
Would Singapore enact the same Tuition Ban?
From what we can tell, the China tuition ban has advantaged wealthier families much more than the middle- and low-income families.
The policy shift has also not achieved its intended outcome of reducing pressure on students for grades – as the underlying education system is still the same old brutal system that highly values grades only.
As such, it is highly unlikely that Singapore enacts a tuition crackdown to the China tuition ban. Singapore’s education model is moving away from hard grades, but to a more holistic education system – taking into consideration a student’s achievements in non-academic pursuits (CCAs, Sports), and also successes in single subjects (revamped PSLE system rewarding high scores for singular subjects).
Similarly, government officials and parents have both expressed their concerns regarding the private tuition model, but the current education system is also being reformed, where certain topics have been removed in subjects – such as for Pure Physics.
While China has a much narrower margin for error in their brutal education system, Singapore’s education system allows for holistic developmental pathways, such as specialisation during ITE, Polytechnics, and also private Universities such as SIM, SIT, and SUSS.
Overall, we do not expect Singapore to take any action on the private tuition industry, and will keep the current rules and regulations as the baseline.