Education in the Peoples Republic of China is a state-run system of public education run by the Ministry of Education. All citizens must attend school for at least nine years. The government provides primary education for six time to time years, starting at age six or seven, followed by six years of secondary education for ages 12 to 18. Some provinces may have five years of primary school but four years for middle school. There are three years of middle school and three years of high school. The Ministry of Education reported a 99 percent attendance rate for primary school and an 80 percent rate for both primary and middle schools. In 1985, the government abolished tax-funded higher education, requiring university applicants to compete for scholarships based on academic ability. In the early 1980s the government allowed the establishment of the first private schools.
China has had a major expansion in education, increasing the number of undergraduates and people who hold doctoral degrees fivefold from 1995 to 2005. In 2003 China supported 1,552 institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities) and their 725,000 professors and 11 million students. There are over 100 National Key Universities, including Beijing University and Tsinghua University. Chinese spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006. China published 184,080 papers as of 2008.
Laws regulating the system of education include the Regulation on Academic Degrees, the Compulsory Education Law, the Teachers Law, the Education Law, the Law on Vocational Education, and the Law on Higher Education. See also: Law of the Peoples Republic of China.