Beijing Normal University, a key university under the administration of the Ministry of Education, is a renowned institution of higher education known for teacher education, education science and basic learning in both the arts and the sciences. The university’s predecessor, the Normal College of the Imperial University of Peking, was founded in 1902. In 1908, the school name was changed to Advanced Normal College of the Imperial University and the school became independent. In 1912, the name changed again, to Beijing Advanced Normal School, and then, in 1923, the name changed yet again to Beijing Normal University, the first Normal University in Chinese history. In 1931 and 1952, respectively, Peking Women’s Normal University and Fu Jen Catholic University merged to create Beijing Normal University.
For over a century, Beijing Normal University has from the beginning shared a fate as regards the Chinese people’s struggle to gain independence, freedom, democracy and prosperity, and the university has played a significant role in patriotic movements that have included the May 4th Movement (1919) and the December 9th Movement (1935). Over the years, the school has been home to a large group of renowned intellectuals and scholars, who have promoted culture and stimulated education, to name a few: Li Dazhao, Lu Xun, Liang Qichao, Qian Xuantong, Wu Chengshi, Li Jinxi, Chen Yuan, Fan Wenlan, Hou Wailu, Bai Shouyi, Zhong Jingwen, Qi Gong, Hu Xiansu, Wang Kunren and Zhou Tingru. Adhering to a fine tradition of “Patriotism, Progress, Honesty, Sincerity, Truth-Seeking, Innovation and being a paragon of virtue and learning” while embodying the spirit of “Learn, so as to instruct others and Act, to serve as example to all,” for over a hundred years Beijing Normal University has lived by the philosophy of “Pursuing knowledge, Cultivating personality, and Helping the whole world.”
Among the national key universities built during the time of China’s Seventh and Eighth Five-Year Plans, Beijing Normal University is acknowledged as one of the nation’s first ten key universities. The school entered into the first “211 Project” Construction Program during the time of the Ninth Five-Year Plan. On the occasion of the 2002 Centennial Celebration, the Ministry of Education and Beijing Municipality said they attached great importance to collaboration in the development of Beijing Normal University. The Ninth Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing listed Beijing Normal University as among the institutions it was supporting to become world-class universities. Over the Tenth Five-Year Plan period, the university was listed on the nation’s “985 Project” Construction program.
The main campus (North Taipingzhuang Campus) of Beijing Normal University covers 172.64 acres that serve as an important place for the university to carry out educational activities. The school has 22,000 full-time students, including 8,900 undergraduates, 11,300 graduates and 1,800 long-term international students. The campus has 1 education faculty, 22 schools and colleges, 2 departments and 36 research institutes (centers). The library boasts over 4.1 million volumes and some 17,300 GB of digital resources, with 1,400 GB e-books.
The comprehensive disciplinary strength of Beijing Normal University puts the school at the forefront of the nation’s advanced teaching institutions. In 2002, BNU was one of the top six universities with independent examination and approval authority for undergraduate majors. The university offers 58 different undergraduate majors, 166 Master’s degree programs, 111 Doctoral degree programs, 25 different rotating post-doctoral posts, and 24 and 36 Doctoral and Master’s degree programs for first-level disciplines. At present, there are 5 first-level disciplines, 11 second-level disciplines accorded national key discipline status, and 2 second-level disciplines accorded national key (fostering) discipline status. Moreover, there are 5 first-level disciplines accorded key discipline status by Beijing Municipality, 9 second-level key disciplines of Beijing Municipality, and 1 interdisciplinary program accorded key discipline status by Beijing Municipality. These programs cover 12 disciplinary categories, excluding military science, and comprise a comprehensive discipline structure. According to the 2012 assessment results (the 3rd time) for first-level disciplines issued by the Academic Degree Center of the Ministry of Education, the 5 first-level disciplines – namely, Education, Psychology, Chinese History, Geography and Ecology – ranked first. The 3 first-level disciplines, namely, Chinese Language and Literature, Theatre, Film and Television and System Science – ranked second. There are 10 first-level disciplines in the top 5; 17 in the top 10; and 24 in the top 20 in China. As per the 2012 World University Rankings released by QS, BNU ranks 252, up by 48 from 2011and it is number 8 among universities on mainland China.
Beijing Normal University is a staunch force in the nation’s research effort in the humanities and social sciences and in technology innovation. The university houses four key state laboratories (2 joint ones), 8 Ministry of Education key laboratories, 9 Beijing Municipality key laboratories, 5 Ministry of Education engineering research centers, 2 Beijing Municipality engineering and technology centers, and 7 key research bases in the humanities and social sciences of the Ministry of Education. The university regularly publishes 15 professional journals.
Renowned for its rich educational resources, Beijing Normal University is one of the national bases for talent development of high quality and creativity. It houses 2 national bases for a basic foundation for talents and scientific research in the arts, 5 national bases for a basic foundation for scientific research and teacher development in the sciences, 5 innovative exemplary laboratories for human resource development of the Ministry of Education, and 3 national exemplary centers for experimental education. The school also has a national base for talent training in the life sciences and technology, a national base for the teaching of Chinese as a second language and a national base for university students in quality-oriented education.
Beijing Normal University has a reasonably structured high-quality faculty team. At present, there are 3,100 teachers and staff on the main campus of whom 2,000 are full-time instructors. The number of BNU teachers with senior titles, doctoral degrees and/or overseas learning/working experience puts the school at the forefront among Chinese universities. There are 8 academicians from the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Engineering, 12 academicians employed simultaneously by the two academies, 2 emeritus professors, 5 senior professors, 19 Cheung Kong scholar chair professors, 3 chair professors, 34 chief experts for the Marxism Theoretical Research and Development Project, 32 winners of the China National Foundation awards for distinguished young scientists, 20 candidates for the Outstanding Talents Projects, 1 member of the Academic Degree Commission of the State Council (ADCSC), 16 members of the Discipline Appraisal Team from the ADCSC, 154 winners of Inter-millennium and New Century Talents awards supported by the Ministry of Education, 7 winners of the National Famous Teachers awards, 4 National Innovation Research Groups and 3 Subject Innovation and Talent Introduction groups for higher education institutions launched by the Ministry of Education and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, P.R. China.
Beijing Normal University promotes broad international cooperation and exchange, having signed cooperative agreements with nearly three hundred universities and research institutes from more than thirty nations and regions and exchanging students through cooperative programs with over fifty universities from places that include the United States, the UK, Japan, South Korea and Canada. Moreover, BNU has co-established 7 Confucius Institutes, with: the University of Manchester (UK), San Francisco State University (US), the University of Oklahoma (US), Dawson University (Canada), Sherbrooke University (Canada), Aalborg University, Denmark, University of Macerata, (Italy) and the College of William and Mary (US). Long-term and short-term international students from over 94 countries and regions are studying at BNU, with 1,800 autumn-registered long-term international students, of whom 76% are pursuing academic degrees.
The 12th Party Congress of Beijing Normal University set out the development objective to build BNU into a world-class university by the middle of the century. BNU vows to – during the implementation of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan of China – adhere to the work principle of “human-oriented reform and innovation, optimizing structure, giving prominence to special features and enhancing quality,” holding fast to a strategy of enhancing education quality and following a development philosophy that emphasizes connotation, innovation and specializing and that is open to building the school into a world renowned university, and with a series of key projects that includes: Developing BNU by Ensuring a Quality Project and Strengthening BNU with a Talents Project, a Discipline Development Project, an Internationalization Project, an Institutional Innovation Project, a Condition Insurance Project and a CPC Construction Innovation Project.