Outspoken Renmin University president Ji Baocheng has called on the central government to inject more money into the higher education system to bring down soaring tuition fees for mainland university students. In an article in yesterday's People's Daily, Professor Ji, who is also a National People's Congress deputy, said the mainland even lagged behind some developing countries in education spending. Official data indicates that funding on education accounted for 2.79 per cent of the mainland's gross domestic product in 2004, far below the 4.5 per cent target the government was aiming for in 2000. To make up the funding shortage, universities have been forced to charge higher tuition fees. Students now pay about 40,000 yuan, including tuition fees and accommodation, for a four-year university degree while some highly-sought-after tertiary qualifications can cost 60,000 yuan. Skyrocketing higher education fees have been at the centre of public discontent over the years. Qingdao resident Wu Lejun, whose son is a fourth-year university student in Nanjing , said tuition fees were just too high. Ms Wu said she might have to support her son for another three years of graduate study because the job prospects for graduates with a bachelor's degree were not promising. 'All our savings will be gone by the time my son has his graduate degree,' she said. Professor Ji said some universities could not impose higher fees and 'budgetary investment in higher education should be made a primary source of university funding'. Tsinghua University professor Li Dun said that the government should and could shoulder more of the responsibility to make higher education affordable to the wider community. 'But what also matters is how transparently universities spend each penny they have,' Professor Li said. He said some universities had charged higher fees to fund luxury infrastructure and some officials had siphoned off school funds. In the latest scandal, Tianjin University president Shan Ping was sacked last month in connection with the embezzlement of about 30 million yuan by university officials in 2003.