The Chinese nation is one of the nations in the world that attaches the greatest importance to education. Ancient education in China can be traced back to very early times. Every kind and level of school was already regularized and institutionalized from the central government to the local authorities, and of these the highest educational institutions established in the capital city received the greatest attention. So what is the name of the highest education institution in ancient China?

In ancient China, the highest state school sponsored by the imperial government was called the Imperial College, a name that derives from the Western Zhou Dynasty, in which the term Imperial College was still a general name. Within the category of Imperial Colleges, the ones established in his capital by the emperor of Zhou Dynasty himself were called Piyong, whereas those set up by the principalities were specially referred as Pangong. 

In the Jin Dynasty the Imperial Academy was added, and in this way a dual system took shape in which the Imperial Academy and the Imperial College co-existed with the Imperial Academy as the superior institution. 

Tang Dynasty is known for the most complete education system, in which Simenxue (a kind of state school subordinate to the Imperial Academy, which was established by the Northern Wei Dynasty) came into being based upon the Imperial Academy and Imperial College. In addition, there emerged one educational management agency, namely the Directorate of the Imperial Academy, whose senior official of the Directorate was known as the Jijiu.

During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Directorate of Imperial Academy was altered as the name of the state school, becoming the sole highest educational institution established by the imperial court.

Schooling in ancient China was prominent for the emphasis placed on the humanities, specifically ethical and moral education, while natural science was neglected. Schools at different levels all led to the imperial examinations. From the Imperial College to the Imperial Academy and the Directorate of Imperial Academy, the highest educational institutions in ancient China have had an unbroken continuity of over two thousand years, representing a time-honoured tradition and a worthy and proud page in Chinese cultural history.

For detailed information about the development of the highest educational institutions in ancient China, please visit the micro-lecture of Highest Educational Institution in Ancient China.

Course Link:



                                                                                         By OUC Learning Resources Centre