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Fee standards to be set for tutoring courses

Notice caps companies' spending on publicity at less than 3% of revenue

A teacher teaches English at Beili elementary school in Xuwen county, South China's Guangdong province on Sept 1, 2020. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Local governments should establish guidance fees for curriculum-based tutoring courses for primary and middle school students by the end of this year to reduce families' education expenses, as such training should be nonprofit, a notice issued on Monday said.

The notice, issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Education and the State Administration for Market Regulation, said provincial development and reform commissions and education authorities will be responsible for setting specific fee standards for online and offline tutoring courses.

They should be based on average course costs, local economic development conditions and families' financial capabilities, it said.

The course fees charged by tutoring companies can, at most, be 10 percent higher than the standard and the tutoring companies should strictly reduce unreasonable operating costs

The course fees charged by tutoring companies can, at most, be 10 percent higher than the standard and the tutoring companies should strictly reduce unreasonable operating costs.

The average salary of people working for tutoring companies should not be considerably higher than for those working at public education institutions, the notice said, adding that companies' publicity expenditure should be capped at less than 3 percent of their sales revenue.    

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Tutoring companies should, under no circumstance, increase course fees or charge other fees and local government authorities should hold violators accountable, it said.

A guideline issued recently by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council required curriculum-based tutoring institutions for primary and middle school students to register as nonprofit organizations to ensure the equality of compulsory education.

They are not allowed to go public for financing, listed companies should not invest in them, and foreign capital is barred from such institutions, the guideline said.

In a separate development on Monday, the Ministry of Education issued a guideline setting out specific and strict requirements for the teaching materials used by tutoring institutions for primary and middle school students.

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It said the teaching materials should not exceed the national syllabus and must be of appropriate difficulty and length. They should also strictly implement the Party's education policies and reflect the correct political direction and core socialist values.

People compiling the teaching materials should firmly uphold the Party's leadership and socialism with Chinese characteristics. They should have at least three years of teaching experience and no criminal record or history of moral or credit failings.

Tutoring companies should verify all teaching materials and education authorities should set up expert teams to check the materials to guarantee their appropriateness and difficulty.

Tutoring companies should keep a record of all teaching materials for three years and report information about the people compiling the materials to education authorities.

Through annual examinations, special inspections and random checks, education authorities should verify the teaching materials and the suitability of tutoring company staff members in charge of their compilation.

Education authorities will revoke the teaching permits of companies found to have seriously violated regulations regarding teaching materials.

In a related question-and-answer session explaining the new guideline, an official with the ministry's department for supervision of after-school tutoring institutions, said the guideline applies to all teaching materials used by online and offline training companies in both curriculum-based and non-curriculum-based tutoring.

The regulation of teaching materials has become the key difficulty in regulating the after-school tutoring sector and there is an urgent need to improve related policies, the official said.

zoushuo@chinadaily.com.cn