Beijing Jili University, Beijing Renwen University, and the University for Science & Technology, Beijing sit side-by-side. All three have enormous, sprawling campuses and modern, stylish student dorms and lecture halls. All three are also privately owned.
Private colleges such as these are playing an increasingly important role in China’s education system. The number of non-state owned universities in China has exploded in recent years, given the growing demand for college places in China, and the fact that many public universities are suffering from financial difficulties.
In 2000, there were just 42 privately owned universities in China; by May 2007, this had grown to 295, accounting for almost 16% of all China’s higher education institutions.
The total number of students enrolled in higher education in China grew from just 6.2 million to 23 million between 1998 and 2005. This has created a major opportunity for private sector investment.