The Pilot Programme for Reform on Talent Cultivation Mode and Open Education of OUC, a project approved by the Ministry of Education, was launched in April 1999 and completed and accepted in April 2007. It intends to explore and establish the basic framework, teaching mode, administrative mode and operative mechanism for the education of students who are to be conferred the associate degree and those associate-degree-holders who are to be conferred the bachelor's degree against the background of modern ODE. The aim is to develop qualified practice-oriented professionals. The Pilot Programme involves the target of training, reform of the teaching plan, course content and structure, development of the teacher team, course materials, on-line platform and infrastructure, reform of the teaching mode and administrative mode, as well as the establishment of the learning support services system and the quality assurance system.

Through the implementation of the Pilot Programme, we have set up an open-ended personnel training mode, forged an on-line teaching environment characterized by the integration of various communication networks and the interaction among three levels of platforms, fostered a professional team of ODE teachers, created abundant multimedia teaching resources, established a teaching and administrative mode that complies with the specific needs of adult part-time learners, formulated an integrated operational mechanism that consolidates quality resources available, established a fundamental framework for a set of ODE theories that have Chinese characteristics, and trained a large number of quality, practice-oriented professionals for the country. The Pilot Programme has achieved all its preset goals.

At the end of 2006, the OUs in China had 3.8 million students enrolled (including associate degree and bachelor degree programmes), and had more than 1.63 million graduated from the open education project. There are 84,594 teachers and supporting staff members—including 48,251 full-time teachers, 37,864 part-time teachers, 16,572 supporting staff members, 9,922 technicians, and 1,559 researchers. Compared with the numbers in 1999, the number of full-time teachers in 2006 had increased by 1.71 times, that of doctoral or master's degree holders by 5.21 times, and that of associate professors and professors by 2.42 times. By 2006, there had been 675 new core textbooks, 198 new ancillary textbooks, 385 new video courses (4,807 hours of video), 54 new audio courses (343 hours of audio), 64 new CAI courseware, and 36,306 pieces of on-line teaching materials. The fixed assets of OUs in China had increased by RMB 23.8 billion. A total of 346 research projects had been completed, and 429 research results had won teaching and/or research awards at or above the provincial/ministerial level. "The Setup of the Personnel Training Mode in modern ODE" undertaken by OUC, "Theory and Practice of Guizhou Pilot Project for Reform on Personnel Training Mode and Open Education" undertaken by Guizhou Open University, and "Reform and Setup of the ODE Mode in Shanghai" undertaken by Shanghai Open University won the Second Prize of the "National Teaching Award" in 2005. OUC alone had published 3,833 articles as well as a number of books on ODE. The Pilot Programme has resulted in drastic changes in the educational philosophy, concept, model, methods and tools of OUs throughout the country, an increase in the student population, and an improvement in the quality of education.