Higher Education 

After continuous reforms and adjustments since 1978, a multi-level and multi-format higher education system comprehending all disciplines has taken initial shape to fit in with national economic and social development. The number of ordinary institutions of higher learning increased to 1,022 in 1998 from 598 in 1978. With the continuous deepening of the reform of the organization of higher education, the scale of ordinary institutions of higher learning has been greatly developed, and the benefits remarkably enhanced. With the levels and structure of the cultivation of talent being increasingly rationalized, and the courses improved, institutions of higher learning continuously supply society with a great number of top-grade specialists.

In recent years, putting stress on scientific and technological sectors while developing in an all-round way, enterprises run by institutions of higher learning have sprung up rapidly, and their products with high technology contents have found their way into international markets. China is focusing its energies on carrying out the “211 Project,” that is to say, developing 100 major universities and an extensive group of important disciplines and areas of study to reach the advanced world standards by the early part of the 21st century.

On April 3, 2000, Beijing University and Beijing Medical University were merged into one. Li Lanqing, Vice-Premier of the State Council attended the ceremony held in Beijing University.

In the last 20 years, more than 40,000 students graduated from Beijing University.


The first stage of the "211 Engineering" project is nearing its end. In the course of five years of hard work, and on the basis of discussions and examinations by the related departments, about 600 projects concerning key disciplines have been listed for completion in 100 colleges and universities across the country. These disciplines cover humanities and sociology, economics, politics and law, basic sciences, resources and the environment, basic industry, new and advanced technology, medical science and hygiene, and others. The Ministry of Education demands that the second stage of this project be completed within five years. During these five years, the input into and support for these schools will be continuously enhanced. China will do its best to make the academic level of these key disciplines reach the state advanced level by 2005, so as to lay a foundation for making a number of universities match or nearly match the world’s first‑class universities around 2010.

As China established a socialist market economy system and deepened the reforms of various undertakings, the higher education system reform has become the crux of various reforms in higher education. The general objective for the reforms is to bring into better balance the relations between the government, society and institutions of higher learning, establish and strive to perfect a new system that, while still macro-managed by the state within an overall plan, turns institutions of higher learning outward to face society, and gives schools autonomy in providing education. After many years of effort, higher education has made considerable progress in the reform of management and investment systems, as well as in the personnel and distribution systems. In 1999, the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts was incorporated by Qinghua University, and in 2000 Beijing University and Beijing Medical Sciences University were combined to form the new Beijing University. At the beginning of 2000, the General Office of the State Council published Suggestions for the Further Speeding Up of the Socialization of Logistics of Universities and Colleges. This document put forward the task of realizing the basic socialization of university and college logistics in most parts of China within about three years, starting from 2000. The focus of the reform is the logistics of students' living conditions. The principle of mainly relying on and fully utilizing the abilities of society as a whole for the provision of new dormitories and other logistic service facilities is stressed, while the central, provincial and city governments should provide necessary financial support, in accordance with the different conditions. All student dormitories and other logistic service facilities shall be operated and managed using a new mechanism.

Also, it has taken a big step forward in the reform of the recruitment and employment systems of college graduates. In 1997, all the institutions of higher learning in China carried out the “combination of two categories” reform, that is, the students to be recruited were no longer divided into two categories—state planning and the regulatory planning—but all belonged to the same category and had to pay tuition fees. Schools provide loans for students who cannot afford to pay the tuition. In respect of the employment of recent college graduates, with the improvement of the labor and personnel systems, the work units and schools meet to coordinate supply and demand, and exercise a “two-way choice,” wherein work units may select their own employees and graduates may choose their employers. In addition, the state is to gradually carry out a system wherein college graduates may choose their employers under the guidance of state policies, with the exception of those students who are pre-assigned to specific posts or areas, who enjoy pre-assignment grants or special grants and are to be employed according to the contracts.

Postgraduate education is making unprecedented strides. Before 1949, China’s high-grade specialists were mainly trained in foreign countries, the scale of domestic postgraduate education was very small, as a handful of higher-education schools enrolled a limited number of graduates and granted about 200 master’s degrees altogether throughout all the pre-Liberation period, and no doctorates were offered. After 1978, China’s educational and scientific undertakings developed in an all-round way, and postgraduate education gradually entered a new stage of vigorous development. In 1978, some 63,000 people entered for graduate admission examinations, and 10,000 were recruited. In 1998, a total of 8,957 students received doctorates, and 38,051 master’s degrees. The total number of graduate students expected to be enrolled for post-graduate studies in 2000 is about 120,000 -- an increase of 30 percent compared with the figure for 1999. Among the total number, the part in the state plan is an increase of 20 percent. This is the largest expansion of enrollment of graduate students for more than a decade.

Today, China has managed to establish a postgraduate education system fundamentally comprehending all disciplines and an academic degree system wherein the quality of the training can be guaranteed. This has promoted the fostering and growth of high-grade specialized talents, and given an impetus to scientific research and discipline development in institutions of higher education and scientific research.

While admitting foreign students, China also send students to study abroad every year. In 1998, China received 43,084 students from 164 countries and the students it sent to study abroad exceeded the 23,000-mark.

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Last updated: 2000-07-13.