Project 211 is a constructive project of nearly 100 universities and disciplines in the 21st century conducted by the government of China. The project aims at cultivating high-level talents for national economic and social development strategies. The project began from the idea that, in the mid 1990s, the 30 elite universities at the time were too low by international research standards.
Inclusion in the project means that universities have to meet scientific, technical and HR standards and to offer set advanced degree programs. The figure of 21 and 1 within 211 are from the abbreviation of the 21st century and approximate 100 universities respectively.
China now has more than 1,700 standard institutions of higher education, and about 6 percent of them are 211 Project institutions. 211 Project schools take on the responsibility of training four-fifths of doctoral students, two-thirds of graduate students, half of students abroad and one-third of undergraduates. They offer 85% of the State's key subjects; hold 96 percent of the State's key laboratories; and utilize 70% of scientific research funding. During the first phase of the project from 1996 to 2000, approximately USD 2.2 billion was distributed.
Main Components of the Project
Project 211 consists of the following three major components for development, namely the overall institutional capacity, key disciplinary areas, and public service system of higher education.
1. The Improvement of Overall Institutional Capacity
This requires great efforts in bringing up a large number of academic leaders and competent teachers who have high academic attainments and prestige both at home and abroad. In particular, the training of young academic leaders should be accelerated, so as to maintain a stable teaching and administrative contingent with political integrity and academic quality, rational structure and professional competence. The reform of education and teaching will be carried out in depth in order to optimize the structure of academic programs (specialties) and to enhance the overall student development in moral, intellectual and physical aspects, thus ensuring substantial improvement in the quality of education. Measures are to be taken to enhance the infrastructure and laboratory facilities indispensable for teaching and research, thus creating necessary conditions for training as well as attracting outstanding talents. Steps are to be taken to improve efficiency through moderate institutional expansion, enhance scientific research, and strive for the commercialization of research findings so as to accelerate the pace of transferring scientific achievements into productivity. While facilitating the reform of the administrative as well as the internal management system of universities, efforts will be made to strengthen international exchange and co-operation in higher education, and raise the international profile of Chinese higher education institutions.
2.The Development of Key Disciplinary Areas
The main thrust of the development of key disciplinary areas is to enhance the capacity of training high-level manpower in the capacity of training high-level manpower in the frontier fields of science and technology. Among the institutions with favorable conditions, efforts will be made to identify key research bases, which can exert significant impact on the country's social and economic development, scientific and technological advancement, and the national defense. These bases will have the capacity to deal with major problems in science and technology and have the prospect for breakthroughs in relevant fields. Improving the experimental facilities for the training of professional manpower, efforts will be made to broaden the coverage of various disciplines, and foster the emergence of groups of disciplines, and foster the emergence of groups of disciplines, and foster the emergence of groups of disciplinary areas and research bases. With common theoretical foundation and inherently close relationships, these groups are favored for resources sharing and have unique features and advantages in developing a capacity for the training of high-level professional manpower in a sustainable manner. Efforts will also be made to establish a system of key disciplinary areas covering major professions and sectors for national economic and social progress, facilitating the development of academic disciplines and science and technology, optimizing the division of labor, and achieving mutual reinforcement.
3. The Development of the Public Service System of Higher Education
The development of the public service system of higher education comprises three components: the Chinese Education and Research Network (CERNET), the Library and Documentation Support System (LDSS) and the Modern Equipment and Facilities Sharing System (MEFSS). Linking up all major universities in China and the INTERNET, the CERNET will provide information service to the sectors of education, science and technology, and customers from all walks of life in China. The LDSS. backed by the CERNET, will establish a national comprehensive documentation center and a number of documentation centers for various disciplines, thus forming a documentation and information sub-network with extensive connections to similar systems both at home and abroad. In light of regional conditions and development priorities of the disciplinary areas, the MEFSS service center will be set up in major cities where a large number of universities are located so as to raise the efficiency in facility utilization.
The Mode of Implementation of Project 211
In principle, projects aimed at strengthening key disciplines and the public service system of higher education will be integrated in an overall plan and implemented in selected universities for consolidation, upgrading, and improvement, so as to effectively utilize financial resources and bring into full play the overall efficiency of higher education institutions. A small number of key disciplinary areas and other development projects will be accommodated in other institutions of higher learning.