Peking University (Traditional Chinese: 北京大学; Simplified Chinese: 北京大学; Pinyin: Běijīng Dàxué), colloquially known in Chinese as Beida (北大, Běidà), was established in 1898. It is regarded as one of the best and the most selective universities in China. Peking University is the first formally established university, and the first national university of China. The university policy has mandated the use of Peking University in English rather than Beijing University due to tradition and the desire to avoid confusion with Beijing Normal University and other similarly named institutions.
After the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 (and the resulting expansion of Japanese territorial control in east China), Peking University moved to Changsha and formed the Changsha Temporary University along with Tsinghua University and Nankai University. In 1938, the three schools moved again, this time to Kunming, and formed the National Southwestern United University. In 1946, after World War II, Peking University moved back to Beijing. At that time, the university comprised six schools (Arts, Science, Law, Medicine, Engineering, and Agriculture), and a research institute for humanities. The total student enrollment grew up to 3,000.
After the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, Yenching University was merged into Peking University and Peking University lost its "national" appellation to reflect the fact that all universities under the new socialist state would be public. In 1952 Peking University moved from downtown Beijing to the former Yenching campus.
In 2000, Beijing Medical University was merged into Peking University and became the Peking University Health Science Campus
The Times World University Rankings in 2006 rated Peking University as the best university in Asia, and ranked 14th in the world, whilst the THES - QS World University Rankings also ranked the university 14th in the world.
The entrance criterion of Peking University is extremely selective. Every year only the top students of each province across China can be admitted, which makes Peking University one of the most prestigious places for students all over China.
Peking University is a comprehensive and national key university. The University consists of 30 colleges and 12 departments, with 93 specialties for undergraduates, 2 specialties for the second Bachelor's degree, 199 specialties for Master's degree candidates and 173 specialties for Doctoral candidates. While in a leading postion of basic sciences research and teaching, the university has gained itself very successful development of applied sciences.
At present, Peking university has 216 research institutions and research centres, including 2 national engineering research centres, 81 key national disciplines, 12 national key laboratories. With eight million holdings, the university library is the largest of its kind in Asia.
The West GateThe university has made an effort to combine the research on fundamental scientific issues with the training of personnel with high level specialized knowledge and professional skill as demanded by the country's modernization. It strives not only for the simultaneous improvements in teaching and research work, but also for the promotion of interaction and mutual promotion among various subjects.
Teaching also has been emphasized. It aims to cultivate the students' practical ability and creative power. As a result, the teaching of core courses is strengthened, the content of courses is enriched and renewed and favourable conditions have been created, for the students to develop themselves in extracurricular activities.
Peking University has been becoming a center for teaching and research, consisting of diverse branches of learning such as pure and applied sciences, social sciences and the humanities, and sciences of management and education. Its aim is to rank among the world's best universities in the next couple of decades, with the school's leadership placing great emphasis on developing bilateral relationships with prominent American universities for student and faculty exchanges.
The campus of Peking University is located in northwest Beijing, in the Haidian district which was designated for universities.
It is located on the former site of Qing Dynasty royal gardens and retains Chinese-style landscaping as well as many traditional buildings. It is known throughout China, along with its neighbour Tsinghua University, for having one of the most beautiful campuses.
Beyond Peking University's main campus, Peking University Health Science Center (PKUHSC)'s campus is located in Xue Yuan Rd. where China's most distinguished colleges are located. PKUHSC's campus is less aesthetically appeasing but is nonetheless a fitting site for academics and research
Peking University has one of the largest pools of international students in China. The dorms for international students are located at "Shao Yuan" (Shao Garden). Every year, Peking University has approximately 2000 international students on campus. Approximately 40% of the international students are Korean and the remaining 60% are made up of students from most countries in the world including most of Western Europe, North America, South America, all parts of Asia, Australia as well as many parts of Africa. The university is a member of Universitas 21, an international association of research-led universities.
Overview and HistoryIn the Stone Age, "Peking Man" lived near Beijing -- as many as 500,000 years ago. The earliest relics in China are stone tools dating to this time period. Between four and five thousand years ago there were agricultural settlements southwest of Beijing. They were the beginning of a city that would go through several name changes over the millenia.The legendary Yellow Emperor Huang Di battled Chiyou "in the wilderness of the Zhou prefecture." Zhoulu is a town to the west of modern Beijing. The Yellow Emperor's successor, Emperor Yao, established a capital city called Youdo. Youdo became a place called Ji, and Ji was taken over by the Marquis of Yan during the period of the Warring States (475 B.C.)Ji remained an important city for ten centuries. From China's first feudal empire through to the end of the Tang Dynasty, Ji was a strategic military center in the campaign to unite all of China.By the end of the Tang Dynasty in 907 A.D., the Qidan army came from the north and occupied Ji. They called it Nanjing, which meant "southern capital." During this time the Liao Dynasty ruled and carried out many reconstruction projects in the city, fortifying it for greater military use.The Nuzhen army conquered the Liao and established the Jin dynasty as of 1115 A.D., moving the city of Ji and renaming it "Zhongdu" which means "Central Capital." This meant more expansion and construction of palaces until the city spanned five kilometers across and contained an estimated one million people.Mongolian raiders invaded Zhongdu in 1215 A.D. and renamed it Dadu. Under Kublai Khan the Yuan Dynasty took Dadu as its capital and unified China!Since Zhongdu had been destroyed by fire in the change from Jin to Yuan dynasties, Kublai Khan took on a reconstruction project that was to expand the city into rectangular shape. It became the political center of the country with three main areas -- imperial palaces, the city walls, and the canal.By the coming of the thirteenth century, Dadu was a world famous city which astounded Marco Polo when he arrived. In his record he writes, "You must know that it is the greatest palace that ever was..."In 1368 Ming soldiers captured Dadu and renamed it Beiping or "Northern Peace." It went through another period of reconstruction which saw walls twelve meters high built around its perimeter, walls ten meters thick which took fifteen years to build. When they were done, Beiping became the official capital of the Ming Dynasty. With the completion of the palaces and gardens in 1420, Emperor Yongle renamed the city Beijing, "Northern Capital."Beijing grew once more and took on a rectangular shape with two distinct sections, the Inner City (Tartar) and the Outer City (Chinese). Its city planners gave it an organized arrangement that still felt relaxed.The Qing Dynasty came along circa 1644 A.D. and the Manchus built extended suburban gardens. These took more than a whole century to make, but when they were finished the open-air pavilions and palaces stood as a masterpiece of Chinese architecture. This was proper to show the power and refinement of traditional China, a fitting design for the capital of the empire.The Qing Dynasty lasted until 1911 but collapsed into chaos at the hands of the Northern Warlords. Beijing suffered a lack of leadership until 1949, when the People's Liberation Army entered the city. From Tian'anmen Square in the center of the city, Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republic of China, with Beijing as its capital.Since then it has continued to expand, surpassing the nine gates of the inner city wall, beyond the seven outer gates, and into the suburbs. Beijing now takes up 750 square kilometers! The city retains its old symmetry with a central axis that runs north-south, and the Imperial Palace Museum at the center. This palace was once called the "Forbidden City" but it is now a museum open to the public.Getting ThereThe Beijing Capital International Airport is located 25km northeast of the city. It is the center of China's civil aviation network and it connects to 69 cities worldwide. The airport is linked to the city by bus, taxi and Beijing Subway Airport Line.The city government operates one bus line and private buses go and come from several hotels. The taxi stand is outside the terminal, as always, so don't ride with the drivers who harass you inside the terminal. A ride to the city center should cost about 70 RMB plus 15 RMB highway toll. You should also know that there's an airport tax of 90 RMB for international travelers. Keep your receipt!TransportationWithin the city you can choose from 67,000 GPS-equipped taxis, the bus or the metro. Half of their buses are running on natural gas now, which is a good move considering the city is adding fifty new bus routes per year. Whoa!The metro has two routes, the Loop Line and Line One. The Loop has sixteen stations and it runs parallel to where the city wall stood in the Ming era. Line One has twenty-one stops going from the suburbs on one side all the way across to the other side. It is safe to assume that there will be more metro lines to follow as Beijing grows.People and CultureOne of the unique sights in Beijing is a park filled with retired people doing their exercises early in the morning. Tai ch'i, QiGong, sword dancing and shadow boxing are forms of exercise and relaxation which have existed for more than two thousand years and are still popular today.Drinking tea in a teahouse and enjoying a folk opera in an old-style theater are both popular activities in Beijing culture. Beijing has more bars and pubs than any other Chinese city (more than 400), and it's also full of antique shops, silk markets and museums.Things to do, RecommendationsBeijing is massive and filled with interesting things to explore. For just a few examples, take a look at these:The National Stadium (bird's nest), the Water Cube, and ruins of the Yuan Dynasty city wall.If you like art, you have to check out the 798 Art District. It's named for Factory #798 and the district contains hundreds of galleries, bookstores and restaurants. Have fun!Text by Steve Smith.