The Empirical and Comparative Cost-Benefit Study on Distance Education of Open Universities is a National Education Sciences Planning Project of "the 10th Five-Year Plan". It was formally approved in 2006, and the research findings were reviewed and accepted in August 2008 with an excellent rating.

The Project has significant theoretical and practical implications for a proper understanding of the economic characteristics of ODE of OUs in China, the setup of a cost-sharing mechanism among the OUs at different levels, the future investment in OUs in different regions and levels, a better development and consolidation of the country's distance education resources, as well as the improvement in the efficiency of using these resources.

The major contributions of the Project lie in the following areas:

  • Data of large samples were drawn from OUs throughout China. On this basis, we have put forward some policy recommendations for the strategic development of the universities at different levels. The Project is not only a new addition to the existing literature on the cost-benefit analysis of China's distance education, but also better applies education economics into the field of distance education.
  • The empirical study is original in the field of China's distance education economics, and its methodology and research results can be applied to a wide range of areas.
  • The theoretical part of the Project proposes the fundamental characteristics and the basic components of distance higher education, as well as the internal relationship between the cost and the tuition. These findings will play a positive role in guiding the delivery of education, as well as raising awareness and achieving cost and tuition control.

One of the research findings, in the form of a paper entitled "The Balance among Quality, Scale and Effectiveness—An Empirical Study on Scale Effect in Teaching Venues at Prefecture and City Level of Open Universities in China" won the "Gold Medal Best Paper Award" during the 22nd Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) Annual Conference.

Right now, we are engaging in the research on distance education economics and are planning publication of books in this field.