Continuing education at Tsinghua University started as “Night School” in the 1950s. To date, the University’s continuing education has cultivated millions of talented people. The establishment of the School of Continuing Education, approved by the Ministry of Education (then the State Education Commission) in 1985, significantly promoted the continuing education of the University. In 2002 the University reformed the management and administration structure of continuing education. The Administration Office of Professional Training (renamed “Office of Continuing Education”in 2016) was thus set up to be in charge of continuing and distance education at Tsinghua. The School of Continuing Education, shifted from administration to offering continuing education and training services to the public, has become the backbone of Tsinghua’s continuing education. The School also holds the UNESCO Chair of Continuing Engineering Education.
Continuing education is an important part of Tsinghua’s talent-cultivation initiative. With an outstanding faculty team, strong research capacity, and active international exchange and cooperation, the University gives participants unparalleled access to high-quality educational and training resources. It offers a broad range of continuing education and professional development programs covering science, engineering, liberty arts, law, medicine, economics, management, art, etc. These programs are in the form of short-term training courses, visiting scholar programs, professional certificate programs and so on. They are delivered either in the classroom with great flexibility or through the internet advanced by modern technology, or with the combination of both.
Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, continuing education at Tsinghua University will unswervingly serve national strategies and the country’s development demands, and actively promote the building of a learning society. In 2003, Tsinghua University initiated the project of education for poverty alleviation. With the aim of “disseminating knowledge and eradicating poverty”, the project has targeted poverty alleviation and development work in key counties and concentrated contiguous poverty-stricken areas for the purpose of educating the poor. Tsinghua cooperates closely with local organization departments and education authorities to establish modern distance learning centers for educational poverty alleviation. Satellite technology is applied to transfer Tsinghua high-quality education and training resources to undeveloped areas for free. In more than ten years, a total of more than 1,100 county-level modern distance teaching stations have been established in 27 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions across the country, accumulatively training more than 2.6 million local Party cadres and government officials, primary and secondary school teachers and students in impoverished areas. From 2004 to 2018, a total of 2333 students and 383 young teachers from Tsinghua, 1,149 university students from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan joined this project and went to poverty-stricken areas across China to teach English, computer courses, and share their learning experiences. Since 2013, Tsinghua has been assigned by the Ministry of Education to help the poverty-stricken county of Nanjian, Yunnan Province and this has been listed by MOE among one of the ten exemplary programs of national universities’ poverty alleviation initiative through education. In 2018, Tsinghua University’s education poverty alleviation team—the School of Continuing Education was awarded a national innovation prize by the State Council’s Panel of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
In 2019, the former Office of Continuing Education and Office of Online Education were reorganized as the Office of Lifelong Education Administration in order to better fulfill their functions.