Culture and Education

Education in China

Updated: Nov 28, 2018 Print
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The Chinese Constitution and educational laws demand that all Chinese children should receive nine years of compulsory education, including six years of primary school (normally starting from the age of 6) and three years of junior middle school.

Higher education has developed substantially since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. A three-tier degree system, offering bachelor’s, master's, and doctorate degrees, was instituted in 1981. Following a series of reforms, a diverse, multi-level system of higher education has been initiated, encompassing a full range of subjects and suited to the needs of the national economy and social development. China's institutions of higher learning include comprehensive universities and specialized universities or institutes. Most specialized programs take three years, with a small number taking two; comprehensive programs generally take four years, with a small number taking five or six. China is home to a number of renowned universities, including Tsinghua University, Peking University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Nanjing University, the University of Science and Technology of China, Wuhan University, Sun Yat-sen University, Tongji University, and Xi'an Jiaotong University. After completing their undergraduate studies, college graduates may enter the job market, or pursue a second bachelor's degree or a master's or doctoral program. Those who have received a doctorate may choose to continue their studies abroad. Students face tests at every level of China's educational system, and only those who surmount these hurdles are granted the opportunity to pursue a higher level of education.

In 2017, China's universities produced 7,358,287 graduates (including those from comprehensive programs and specialized programs); universities and research institutes conferred 58,032 doctorates and 520,013 masters degrees. Statistics indicate that there were 167,009 primary schools, 2,107 special education schools, 13,555 high schools, and 2,631 universities in China in 2017. The Chinese government provided over 1 trillion yuan in financial aid to 620 million students from 2012 to 2018.

China's institutions of higher learning have produced a large number of advanced scientific research and technical applications. In 2017, a total of 390,235 scientific and technological theses were published overseas by China's universities, and 45,591 monographs concerning science and technology appeared. The government has granted 169,679 patents to universities, 78,254 of them for inventions.

Sources of the English text include:

Education Law of the People's Republic of China

Compulsory Education Law of the People's Republic of China

QS Asian University Rankings 2019

Data concerning education and scientific activities released by National Bureau of Statistics


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