PEKING — China abolished free higher education in a sweeping educational reform announced today.
The ruling Communist Party also gave universities greater freedom from central government control and promised graduates more say in choosing jobs.
Erasing the cherished leftist principle of free higher education, the party Central Committee said in a report that almost all college students will have to pay for tuition, accommodation and other expenses. No figures were given.
The decision is aimed at boosting incentives for academic excellence as China seeks to groom a generation able to push through its ambitious economic modernization plans.
The document also set a goal of providing nationwide junior secondary school education within 10 years. Primary education is almost universal, but only two-thirds of Chinese students go on to high school.
Instead of receiving government grants based on parental incomes, college students will now have to compete for scholarships given according to academic ability.
The only students who will not have to pay fees will be those studying to be teachers, those who are poor or those who face particularly tough job assignments after graduation.
The move contrasts sharply with far-left policies under Mao Tse-tung, when intellectuals were treated with deep suspicion and all aspects of university life were strictly supervised.
During Mao's 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, children of intellectuals were largely excluded from colleges in favor of students from worker, peasant and military backgrounds, irrespective of ability.