Young lecturers get harsh money lesson

Updated: 2014-07-28 20:37

By Luo Wangshu

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Young lecturers get harsh money lesson

He Ying, a young lecturer at Capital Normal University, earns 7,000 yuan ($1,100) a month before tax and is feeling the financial strain of living in Beijing.

"My husband and I pay 8,000 yuan for our house loan each month, more than a third of our joint monthly income," said the 29-year-old. "We can save very little after paying our essential living expenses, and I worry about the future.

"My parents are getting old and I'm concerned that if they become sick I won't have the time or money to provide them with good care. We plan to have a baby soon, but the cost will be huge."

She spent an extra six years studying compared with her college schoolmates to gain a doctoral degree, which enabled her to obtain her faculty position in 2013.

However, her decent job does not provide a decent income.

She is one of thousands of new university faculty members who are facing financial difficulties at the start of their career.

According to the Beijing Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security, the average monthly income in the capital was 5,793 yuan in 2013.

A study by the salary administration research center of the China Association of Higher Education showed that nearly half of university faculty members receive less than 100,000 yuan a year, and only 15 percent of faculty members earn more than 150,000 yuan annually.

The survey covered more than 130,000 faculty members in 84 universities across the country.

The researchers conclude that although faculty members are well educated they are underpaid.

They value their jobs because they find research and teaching interesting, are well respected and have stable incomes.

However, the researchers say that if their salaries do not provide them with a reasonable standard of living, they will be forced to take part-time jobs, which will reduce their loyalty to research and teaching.

Li Liguo, a professor at Renmin University of China, said Chinese faculty members earn less than their international peers.

Li believes good lecturers should receive higher salaries.

There are 2,450 colleges and universities across the country employing more than 1.5 million full-time teachers, according to the Ministry of Education.

He, from Capital Normal University, said she faces a lot of pressure at work.

"This semester, I worked through the night less than before, but I still stayed for the whole night four or five times," she said, adding that the university does not encourage staff members to take part-time jobs, so they have to rely wholly on their salary.

According to research carried out in 2011 by Shen Hong, a professor of education at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, nearly 70 percent of faculty members are younger than 40.

Shen believes it is important to provide a decent environment for young lecturers.

"Many are approaching 30 by the time they obtain a doctoral degree," said Shen.

"They have to handle pressure from family, work and society. Too much pressure might harm their health and force them to abandon their careers in their 40s."

(China Daily USA 07/28/2014 page6)