A long and very readable report on higher education comparing experiences in the United States, Europe and China by William C. Kirby appears which you can read in full if you click HERE.
It states that a little more than a century ago, China underwent a seismic shift in educational institutions, when, with the end of the old examination system, the existing structure of local schools, academies, and directorates of study — all linked to the civil service exams —
was displaced by a new system of public and private institutions.
At that time, China developed one of the more dynamic systems of higher education in the world, with strong, state-run institutions. All this would be swept away in the late 1950s and 1960s, yet the traditions and memories of excellence remained, and they have helped to fuel more recent efforts.
Simply in terms of numbers of students educated, the more recent changes are more dramatic than even the great postwar expansion in the United States or the growth of mass-enrollment universities in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1978, after a decade of mostly closed universities, Chinese universities enrolled approximately 860,000 students. This number increased very gradually until 1996, with enrollment then of about one million.
In the late 1990s the government decided to accelerate greatly the pace of expansion, and by the year 2000 as many as 6 million students were enrolled in Chinese universities.
According to the ambitious Eleventh Five-Year Plan of the Ministry of Education, higher-education enrollment was scheduled to reach twenty-three million by 2005 and 30 million by 2010. There are at present more than 26 million students in institutions of higher learning.
By contrast, the United States had approximately 13 million undergraduate and 2 million graduate and professional students in 2000, with undergraduates projected to rise to perhaps 15 million by 2010.
The article is by William C. Kirby who has been a Fellow of the American Academy since 2005. He directs Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.
Source: Red Orbit