(Yicai Global) June 1 -- China's market regulator has handed 13 private education institutions, including Wall Street English and Xueersi Education Technology, CNY31.5 million (USD4.9 million) in fines, resulting in a total of 15 schools penalized for false advertising over the past month.
OneSmart International Education Group and Zhangmen Education were also in the group of 13, the State Administration for Market Regulation said at a press conference today.
Authorities' scrutiny is expanding. On May 10, the SAMR fined two online learning platforms, Yuanfudao and Zuoyebang, the maximum fine possible for sham advertising campaigns. Each of them was made to pay CNY2.5 million (USD392,260).
The market regulator started to inspect training institutions in early May and found out that 15 institutions had published false advertising, and 13 of them had displayed problematic pricing, the SAMR added.
The institutions had faked teachers’ credentials, exaggerated their courses' impact, fabricated user reviews, and lured clients with misleading prices. One of the tactics was to show a discounted price as low as CNY1 (20 US dollar cents) and an elevated "original price."
One of the most conspicuous problems in education is the heavy burden on primary and secondary school students, and the disorderly development of the tutoring sector simply makes matters worse, the central government said during a meeting on May 21.
China needs to regulate these institutions and severely fine those that charge parents without proper qualifications, the government added.
Editor: Emmi Laine, Xiao Yi