In addition to the two big projects that pay particular attention to qualitative enhancement in research activities in a very few selected key universities, special efforts have also been made to improve the quality of education in all higher education institutions. One of the major measures that has been taken recently is implementation of assessment on quality of teaching activities at the level of undergraduate education. However, it is conducted neither through peer reviews nor by a third party: the assessment is fundamentally organized and directed by the MOE.
As early as 1990, the first regulation concerning assessment on teaching quality was promulgated. In the Act of Higher Education of 1995, the importance of improving the quality of teaching activities in universities is once again emphasized. By 2002, three types of assessments on quality of undergraduate education had been conducted: a Qualified Assessment on undergraduate education in institutions that were established after 1976; an Excellence Assessment on key universities that were placed on the list of Project 211; and a Random Assessment on the remainder of institutions (http://www.moe.edu.cn, accessed on 6 June 2003). It is reported that from 1994 to 2003, these three types of assessments had been implemented in more than 200 higher education institutions, including Excellence Assessments on 16 institutions; Qualified Assessments on 192 institutions; and Random Assess- ments on 26 institutions. (http://news.xinhuanet.com/, accessed on 24 October 2004). In order to make a more effective and efficient effort to regulate assessment on university education at a national level, on 26 October 2004, Center for Assessment of Higher Education Teaching was established by the MOE. It is directly attached to and led by the MOE and specifically funded for conducting assessment on teaching activities and other professional education in higher education institutions on a national scale. From now on, quality assessment on teaching activities in every higher education institution will be conducted by the Center every 5 years. According to the outcome of assessment, all institutions will be ranked at four levels: excellent, good, pass, and failure. In addition, it is also compulsory for institutions to report their data concerning teaching activities to the MOE every year. By publishing the yearly data and implementing assessment every 5 years, the MOE expects to be able to survey the ongoing situation and quality of teaching activities in all universities (China Education Daily, 27 October 2004). Consequently, strongly supported by the central government, this national system of qualitative enhancement of research and teaching activities in higher education has been established in China in the most recent years.
The increases in number of enrollments in regular institutions were mostly achieved in local universities and institutions with lower prestige. It is reported that by 2002 no big changes had occurred in enrollment at Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, and other key universities (Beijing Youth Daily, 3. April 2002). Compared with other types of regular higher education institutions, significant increases can be seen particularly in the newly founded independent colleges, which used to be called second-level colleges (Erji Xueyuan in Chinese) within or attached to existing regular universities Futao Huang 2005