China's fast economic growth and social development have increased the demand for more highly skilled personnel and technological advancement in the country. The tasks of educating the leadership and generating and utilizing knowledge for her continuing development effort present major challenges to the nation's higher education institutions. Although many reform initiatives and improvements have been made within the system in the past decade, except for the [key] universities, the majority of higher education institutions in China still do not have the managerial, financial, academic and technical expertise to contribute to economic stabilization and long-term growth, nor to the development of an open and civic society. They are the main concern of the study presented in this report.
This report takes a historical and comparative approach to examine the higher education development in China at both systemic and institutional levels in the context of broad social and economic changes in its society. The investigation focuses on four areas: relationships between universities and the State, impact of changes on university management, financing higher education, and quality improvement in instructional programs. By reviewing literature and drawing evidence from field visits and experiences from other countries, the report provides a fair picture of strengths and weaknesses of Chinese higher education institutions in relation to their histories, current conditions, and potentials as well as recommendations for their future development.