In the 1980s, China’s higher education achieved considerable progress. By the end of 1992, China had 1,075 full time institutions of higher learning with 881,000 graduated and 1,320,000,000 undergraduates. So far, there are 1,700 research institutions of natural sciences run by universities, 220 research institutes and 540 research centres of social sciences, 400 key disciplines and 99 national laboratories. It goes without saying that institutions of higher learning have been playing as important role in China’s scientific research.
China’s universities fall under either the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, over ministries of the Central government, provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities or certain major cities. Universities and independent institutes are all institutions of higher learning on the same footing.
In China, a strict entrance examination system has been introduced with a view to ensuring the quality of new entrants to universities. The unified national best and brightest in terms of all round development of morality, intelligence and physique can have access to higher education.
The academic year of full time universities is separated into two semesters (A few have three).The first semesters begins in September and the second in February. Each semester has about 20 weeks and each week has six school days. In addition to mandatory winter and summer vacations, every 1 January (National Day) students have 7-day holidays. Universities operate normally on other anniversaries and traditional fees.
Chinese students generally live in school dormitories and eat in the school cafeteria. A campus has many playgrounds with fully equipped facilities which are provided for the convenience of students for spare time sports activities. Apart from usual physical exercise, students have access to different sports events and competitions organized by universities, such as long distance running in winter, swimming in summer and ball games and chess games. Students strong in sports can join their university teams of basketball, volleyball, football, etc. Fans of Wushu (the martial art) and Qigong will have teachers available for them. The annual sports games of each university provide students and teachers with the chance to best demonstrate their talent in sports events.
The student union and organizations bring together many students of common interest who set up their own chorus, dancing troupe, orchestra, photography activities. Students in the associations develop their abilities and give full play to their talents. Universities admitting foreign students have established separate dormitories and canteens for them. When conditions permit, foreign students can also share dormitories with Chinese students. They are also free to eat either in the reserved or Chinese Students’ canteens.
Universities have paid ample attention to extra-curricular activities for foreign students. They are organized to watch artistic performances and go out for sightseeing for rest and recreation after intense studies. Foreign students are welcome to attend the school’s sports games, long distance running competitions, swimming and ball games, as well as other related activities of students’ organizations.
Friendly exchanges between Chinese and foreign students are encouraged and in particular, contact between Chinese and foreign youth. Universities often conduct seminars and parties for Chinese and foreign students and other social activities. Chinese students, with a strong interest in knowledge, are hardworking and cherish their friendship with foreign students; therefore they are eager to make friends with them and share their good times and bad. The students through contact with each other will establish a profound friendship.
School Spirit in China’s Institutions of Higher Education
China’s universities attach great importance to good school spirit. In many universities, a good school spirit is embodied by diligence, hard work, strictness, realism, pioneering, innovation and originality. Based on the characteristics of their specialties, different universities accentuate specific aspects of school spirit. For instance, medical universities install in their school spirit the concept of humanitarianism; normal universities recommend the students to develop the spirit of sacrifice and be paragons of virtue and learning; and universities of political science and law encourage the students to cultivate noble characters and to be upright and just, honest and faithful to the duties.
Students are required by universities to complete registration procedures in time. Freshmen, before acquiring the status as students, are subject to re-examination.
China’s universities check both students’ attendance and achievement. Absence from class without any sound reason is prohibited. Participation in examination specified by the teaching programme is obligatory. When students have completed all courses offered in the programme and passed the examination, they are entitled to go up one grade. In universities where the credit system has been introduced, a credit is obtained when any student passes the examination will result in repetition, back to a lower grade or discontinuation of schooling according to school regulations.
Students of good character and scholarship are rewarded, commended and granted scholarship by China’s universities.
Any foreign student in China’s university is considered as an ordinary student and hence should abide by all the rules and regulations of the university.