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 centers 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 fetes.