Enrollment in higher education in China continues to expand. From 1999 to 2002, the enrollment increased from 1.6 million to 3.2 million. In 2003, the total enrollment in ordinary schools of higher learning throughout China was 3.82 million, 62,000 more than the previous year. Schools of higher learning and research institutes enrolled 269,000 post-graduate students, 66,000 more than the previous year. In 2004, the whole scale of enrollment of post-graduate students will be further enlarged, the planned enrollment being 330,000, an increase of 22.7 percent from 2003.
Various reforms in the higher education system have been carried out in recent years. A project to create 100 world top-level universities was started in 1993. Today, 708 schools of higher learning have been merged into 302 universities. Among them, the Central Academy of Arts and Design was merged into Tsinghua University; and Beijing Medical University came together with Peking University. Merging of schools of higher learning has deeply reformed the management system of higher education, optimizing allocation of educational resources, and further improving the teaching quality and school standards. More than 30 universities have received the support from a special state fund to support their entry into the top world ranks.
Schools of higher learning have improved their research strength, making more obvious contributions to the economic construction and social development of the country. By strengthening cooperation between production, teaching and scientific research — schools of higher learning are speeding up the turning of scientific and technological research results into products. By the end of 2003, 43 scientific parks had been built around the country in places like Beijing-based Tsinghua University, East China's Fujian-based Xiamen University and Zhejiang-based Zhejiang University.