Although China’s secondary education system has gained a global reputation, with Shanghai ranked first in international student tests, the same is not true of the country’s universities. In the latest ranking of the Times Higher Education Supplement, only Peking and Tsinghua, two Beijing institutions, made the top 100 (at 29 and 35 respectively).
The government is now planning to set up more than 110 "high level" and 10 world class universities by 2020. The aim is to increase that figure to 16 by 2030.
According to data collected by researcher Yu Lujiang from Tongji University and reported in China Daily, provincial governments have already raised more than $5.8bn to finance the new wave of universities.
Yu said: "Heavy investment can help to attract talent and purchase cutting-edge equipment to improve the educational environment. But it requires far more than money to become a top university."
The drive follows on from guidelines issued by the State Council in 2015 that said "a certain number" of universities should be rated as "world-class" by 2020, and China would "basically become a nation with strong higher education by 2050".
The guideline did not say what constituted a "world-class" university.
Image: Peking University is based in a former imperial garden (Sehenswurdigkeiten)