Peking University in the 21st Century

2000 - 2008

Creating a world-class university was an ambitious plan that PKU proposed for the 21st century and the guiding program for its development at the beginning of the century. Under the financial support of the national “211 Project” and “985 Project,” PKU aims to create a world-class university by adhering to the idea of “seeking truth, pursuing excellence, cultivating talents, prospering scholarship, serving the people, and benefiting the society.” PKUers emphasize the development of disciplines and comprehensively promote theoretical innovation, institutional innovation, technological innovation and education innovation with team building as the core and institutional and mechanism innovation as the impetus. The university keeps on improving its disciplines, scientific research, faculty, and management to improve the quality of education and the benefits of school operation. Such efforts shall help PKU better its role in cultivating high-level innovative talents, developing culture, science and technology, and solving major problems in national economic construction and social development.

The teaching reform is continually enhanced. In 2001, the “Yuanpei” plan for reforming undergraduate teaching was initiated, and a new course system consisting of over 300 general courses was completed. According to the fundamental philosophy of “graduate education as the priority and undergraduate education as the basis for developing the framework of a research-oriented university,” PKU steadily expands the scale of graduate education. Meanwhile, the motto of “ensuring quality and pursuing excellence” has prompted the university to keep on with the reforms and improvement to its mechanisms for admission, training, degree conferment, scholarship and subsidies, and other key links to ensure and enhance quality of graduate students, especially doctoral students. By 2005, PKU had 18.5 national bases for scientific research and teacher training. As of November 2007, 46 PKU courses have been recognized as national quality courses, championing all its Chinese counterparts. During the 10th Five-Year Plan, the university won two Top Prizes of the National Awards for Teaching Achievement (including one cooperative award) and 11 First Prizes.

Adhering to the principle of “talents over any other resource,” PKU has established a system of teacher recruitment and promotion featuring total amount control, on-demand post establishment, open ads for recruitment, equal competition, merit-based recruitment, graded rotation, and on-the-job management. The university continuously improves the teachers’ teaching, scientific research and comprehensive quality, enhances the competitiveness of its teaching staff, and emphasizes staff morality to meet the requirements for creating a world-class university. After efforts during the 10th Five-Year Plan, the overall status of PKU faculty was evidently improved. Now more than 60% of our teachers hold a doctor’s degree, and the average age dropped to 50. As of December 2007, PKU had on staff 61 CAS or CASS academicians, 128 winners of the National Outstanding Youth Fund, 99 special lecturers and professors of the Chang Jiang Scholars Program, and 19 chief scientists of the National 973 Project. In addition, 25 of its famous scholars in humanities and social sciences were recognized as Senior Professors of Liberal Arts.

Focusing on discipline construction, PKU strengthens discipline management and faculty adjustment. In April 2000, the university and Beijing Medical University were merged to form a new, overall-enhanced Peking University. Later, a relatively large-scale faculty adjustment was implemented. By 2007, PKU had five schools, 41 departments and 81 key disciplines. From 2002 to 2004, the Ministry of Education evaluated all 80 first-level disciplines (excluding military science) across the country. Of the 33 PKU disciplines entered for the evaluation, 11 ranked first nationally and three others ranked first in all domestic universities. Mathematics, chemistry, history, and foreign language and literature received a perfect score in all five indicators.

During the 10th Five-Year Plan, PKU won one Highest National Award of Science and Technology, 11 Second Prizes of National Natural Science Award (no First Prize was given for three years) and eight National Second Prizes for Scientific and Technological Progress. In terms of humanities and social sciences, PKU topped the list of winners of the biennial award Beijing Municipal Philosophy and Social Science Award for Outstanding Achievements and the triennial National Outstanding Achievement Award for Humanities and Social Sciences in Colleges and Universities in both the level and total number of prizes. At the review for the eighth Beijing Municipal Philosophy and Social Science Outstanding Achievement Award in 2004, PKU won 34 awards. Among them, two were Top Prizes, accounting for 50% of the total; 10 were First Prizes (28.57% of the total) and 22 Second Prizes. During the 10th Five-Year Plan, 38 papers by PKU scholars were rated as National Outstanding Doctoral Dissertations.

Thanks to the 10th Five-Year Plan and “211 Project,” PKU has built a 14C Accelerator Mass Spectrometer, a Time Flight Mass Spectrometer, an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope and other high-level large-scale technological platforms for public testing of instruments. Those internationally cutting-edge devices have laid a solid foundation for scientific researchers from PKU, if not the entire country, to launch world-class researches. The main information network on campus has been updated, indicating a new stage for the intranet development. Transition from a traditional library to a digitized library has been basically completed, and an internationally advanced, academically friendly, open, and digitized university library system has been established. The cafeterias, student dormitories and other buildings were successively built and put into use. A geothermal well was successfully excavated at Jing Yuan and the logistics service facilities were greatly improved. The PKU industry continues to grow at a high speed, prompting the further development of the industry-university-research integration. In promoting its service to the society and economic development, PKU has stepped up the cooperation with different departments and provinces, evidenced by the cooperative contracts with several provinces, municipalities, departments and banks. International cooperation has flourished and various forms of exchanges and cooperation have been carried out with world-renowned universities. A few years into the new century, many foreign dignitaries including heads of state and dozens of Nobel Prize winners visited the university and delivered speeches. Each year we receive more than 20,000 foreign guests and so far we have sent more than 5,000 faculty members and students abroad for exchanges.

PKU keeps pace with the times in Party building and ideological/political work, adopting a variety of working approaches while adhering to the socialist direction in the operations. The university has continuously improved the Party members’ self-cultivation, enhanced the cohesiveness and combat effectiveness of its Party organization, and ensured the Party’s leadership. PKU has a rich, colorful campus culture, with over 200 active student organizations. Performances and cultural activities at the Centennial Forum were splendid and eye-catching. The annual sports meet, the December 9 Singing Competition, the Top Ten Singers of PKU, and the Top Ten PKU Teachers’ Contest have become a tradition for PKUers.

From the establishment of IUP in 1898 to 2008, PKU has witnessed 110 years of vicissitude. As the highest institute of learning in China, the university has gathered a galaxy of famous scholars, experts and academic masters at various historical periods, witnessed the emergence of numerous revolutionaries, thinkers, theoreticians, scientists, and educators, trained generations of outstanding talents and created batches of major scientific achievements, with profound influence on the progress of science and technology, intellectual theories, cultural education, and social development of modern China. A high-level PKU with greater strength and vitality is bound to become one of the best universities in the world of the 21st century. It is bound to make greater contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the construction of a rich, prosperous and beautiful socialist modern China and the progress of human civilization.