Since the implementation of reform and opening up, the reform and development of higher education have made significant achievements. A higher education system with various forms, which encompasses basically all branches of learning, combines both degree-education and non-degree education and integrates college education, undergraduate education and graduate education, has taken shape. Higher education in China has played an important role in the economic construction, science progress and social development by bringing up large scale of advanced talents and experts for the construction of socialist modernization.
In 2002, there were all together 2003 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), among which 1396 were Regular HEIs and the other 607 were higher education institutions for adults. In 2002, the total number of new entrant admitted by and the total enrollment of the regular HEIs were respectively 3,205,000 and 9,033,600. The total number of new entrant admitted by and the total enrollment of new recruitment and total enrollment of adult higher education institutions were 1,175,000 and 2,223,200. The total number of graduate students newly admitted by HEIs and research institutions was 202,600 among which 38,400 were for PH.D and 164,200 for master's degree. The total enrollment for graduate students was 501,000 in 2002.
Chinese economic system used to be very highly centralized. To adapt to that, the former higher education system was also centralized, with education provided by the central and local governments respectively and directly under their administration. The disadvantages of this system were that the state undertook too many responsibilities and the schools lacked the flexibility and autonomy to provide education according to the needs of the society, with central departments and local governments providing education separately, the structure of education was irrational and segmented. There were too many single disciplinary HEIs and professional HEIs。With the establishment of disciplines over-lapped, the efficiency of some HEIs fell very low which in return hampered the improvement of education quality. Therefore, the structural reform of higher education has become a key for other higher education reforms. The reforms of higher education consist of five parts: reforms of education provision, management, investment, recruitment and job-placement, and the inner-institute management, among which management reform is of most importance and difficulty. The overall objectives of higher education reform are to smooth the relationship among government, society and HEIs, setting up and perfecting a new system in which the state is responsible for the overall planning and macro management while the HEIs follow the laws and enjoy the autonomy to provide education according to needs of the society.
After several years' endeavor, the structural reform of higher education has gained heartening achievements. In the field of education provision reform, the old system in which the state undertook the establishment of all HEIs has been broken, and a new system in which the government take main responsibility with the active participation of society and individuals has been taking shape. The development of HEIs run by social forces are fully encouraged and supported.
Regarding management system reform, the relationship among universities, government and society has been gradually smoothed out by various ways such as joint establishment, adjustment, cooperation and merger. A two-level education provision system has taken shape in which the central and local government will take different responsibilities to provide education with the former responsible for the overall planning and management. As a result, the overlapping of education was overcome. At the same time, the government streamlines their administration and delegate more power to the HEIs, expanding their autonomy of providing education for the society according to the laws.
With regard to the financing system, the old system in which the funding of higher education depended on the governments only has been changed and a new system capable of pooling resources from diverse channels with the main responsibilities on government has been gradually established and perfected.
With regard to the reform of system of recruitment, fees charging and graduates jobplacing, on the basis that all citizens should enjoy the legally equal right of receiving higher education, which should be consistently stick to, in the light of local economic development, a new system in which all students should pay reasonable contribution to their own higher education has taken shape. Simultaneously, a scholarship system for excellent student both academically and morally and a loan, stipend and taking part-time jobs system for students with family economic difficulties has been brought into common practice, ensuring that none students will drop out of school because of economic reasons. After their graduation, the students will mainly select their own jobs under the guidance of the state policy. In addition, the Ministry of Education (MOE) is undertaking the reform of examination and recruitment of HEIs which will help HEIs to select talents and expand the autonomy of schooling, thus laying the foundation of training creative talents, and also help the secondary schools to implement comprehensive quality oriented education.
With regard to the reform of internal administration mechanism, the key lies in the personnel system and the allotment system reforms. On the basis of reasonable organization structure delimitation, all the teaching staff carries out the post responsibility system and appointment system and working achievements are emphasized concerning the personal income allotment, which strengthens the encouragement mechanism in allotment and mobilized the enthusiasm of the teaching.