China's top market watchdog has imposed a maximum-level fine of 36.5 million yuan (about 5.74 million U.S. dollars) on 15 tutoring firms amid surging public complaints.
The 15 institutions, including New Oriental Education & Technology Group and Wall Street English, were fined for violations including misleading advertisements and pricing frauds, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said Tuesday.
Yuan Xilu, an official with the SAMR, noted that their malpractices have damaged the legitimate rights and interests of students and disrupted the orderly market competition. The firms have been urged to rectify their problems, and recidivism will mean business suspension or license revocation, he added.
The tutoring industry should not develop for profiteering, and disorderly expansion should be forestalled, said Yuan, adding that market regulators will build a long-term mechanism of oversight and improve the code of conduct and supervision principles.
The first quarter of 2021 saw surging complaints about the tutoring industry, with the total number of complaints filed by consumers via the online service platform "12315" topping 47,000, up 65 percent from a year earlier, he said.