Higher Education Funding in China

Compared with commonwealth countries' tuition, tuition of China's higher education is relatively inexpensive. Nevertheless, the Chinese per capita income is much lower than western countries, so there are still some students from rural and mountainous areas facing funding problems. Chinese government has taken some measures to ensure the smooth enrollment of this group, like students loans, part-time jobs within campus, etc. It seldom has the news that some college students discontinue studies because of lacking of tuition or living cost.

Considering institution funding, it varies dramatically among different universities. In order to adapt to the fierce global competition in education, Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China initiated Project 211 in 90s aiming at strengthening about 100 institutions of higher education and key disciplinary areas as a national priority for the 21st century. On May 4, 1998, President Jiang Zemin declared that "China must have a number of first-rate universities of international advanced lever", so Project 985 was launched. The total number of Project 985 is 39 and all of them belong to 211 project at the same time. The initial aim is to promote China's educational competitiveness and establishment of a number of leading disciplines in the world.

Meanwhile, it is also the beginning to widen the gap and cause the imbalanced distribution of scientific research funds between 211 project universities and common public universities. Within the project, it is not only a glory but also hints numerous tangible benefits. The majority of public universities' development lies to all levels of government funds. Entry in this project means you will gain more research funds. According to another data from Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, from 2009 to 2013, the total government research funding for 39 985-Project institutions is 13.9 billion RMB, with 73 211-Project Institutions approximately 5.1 billion RMB and rest of 670 common undergraduate colleges only 7.9 billion RMB.

The majority of Chinese universities are state-owned universities. The financial support from government level, in most circumstances, decides one university's development. The imbalanced distribution of scientific research funds will deepen the gap among universities.