Open University of China

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The China Central Radio & TV University changed their name in 2009 in the Open University of China (OUC).

China Central Radio & TV University (CCRTVU, or CRTVU, depending on source accessed) is a dedicated distance education institution in China, which offers multi-media university courses through radio, TV, print, audio-visual materials and computer software. It is located in Beijing and is under the direct supervision of the State Education Commission. The CCRTVU together with 28 Provincial TV University (PRTVU) organisations was established on 6 February 1979, and the first nationwide transmission of the RTVU courses via China Central TV (CCTV) was on 8 February 1979.

At present this distance education system is made up of the CCRTVU, 44 (up from 28) PRTVUs, more than 690 branch schools at prefecture and city level, 1600 study centres at county level and 13,000 teaching classes. The system is run and operated at different levels, both central and local, on the basis of overall planning with the CCRTVU as its centre.

Its web site is at


(sourced from Network-based distance education in Chinese universities)

The Responsibilities of RTVUs at Different Levels

The CCRTVU acts in accordance with the needs of economic construction and social development. Its responsibilities are:

  1. to offer nationwide unified subjects in degree education, which involves formulation of corresponding curricula and course syllabi;
  2. to produce print, audio-visual materials and computer software; and
  3. to set up and prepare end-of-term examinations for these courses.

In addition, the CCRTVU is also responsible for the teaching management of the China TV Teachers College, the Central Radio & TV Specialized Secondary School and the China Liaoyuan Radio & TV School. The CCRTVU offers a wide variety of vocational training and continuing education courses at different levels in terms of "open entrance students" and "BA courses" also fall into the CCRTVU’s responsibil-ity. It is conducting evaluation on teaching to ensure teaching quality, training of teaching, technical and managerial staff, and development of distance education research and information. The CCRTVU provides supervision and teaching service for RTVUs (Radio and Television Universities) throughout the country. PRTVUs (the Provincial RTVUs) may offer subjects based on their local needs, formulate the corresponding curricula and course wares and produce print, audio-visual materials and computer software for their own courses. They operate and mark end-of-term exami-nations set by the CCRTVU for the centrally unified courses and set examinations for their own courses.

According to the regulations set by educational authorities and the CCRTVU, PRTVUs draw up detailed rules and regulations for teaching, teaching management, testing and registration.

They are also responsible for student enrolment, awarding degrees, issuing certifi-cates, training teaching staff, conducting research and promoting interchange of ex-perience in both teaching and management. They also provide supervision in teaching and student counselling for branch schools. Branch schools teaching activities in ac-cordance with curricula set by the CCRTVU and the PRTVUs, which involves sched-uling tutorials, organizing counselling, assessing assignments, and organizing examinations, laboratory work and field studies. They carry out all the rules and regu-lations for teaching, teaching management, testing and registration. They oversee formation of classes and teaching administration in study centres. They are responsi-ble for student counselling and may issue certificates. Study centres are responsible for recruiting tutors and teaching staff for non-degree courses, arranging every teach-ing stage and managing classes as well as student counselling.


The Transmission of the Courses and Programmes

In the early years of its existence, the CCRTVU’s courses were transmitted for 33 teaching hours per week nationwide via the microwave network of the CCTV.

On 1 July 1986 China Educational TV (CETV) was founded and started to transmit the CCRTVU’s courses as well as three other channels to transmit programmes, mainly the CCRTVU’s courses.

At the moment, the total number of programmes transmitted via both CCTV and CETV per year amounts to about 9,000 teaching hours. Meanwhile local TV and radio stations also transmit some of the CCRTVU’s courses as well as local TVU’s courses.

Courses and Examinations

RTVUs offer mainly two-year or three-year specialized college degree courses, aim-ing at training applied professional personnel at the grass-roots level, who develop in an all-round way – morally, intellectually and physically – to meet the requirements of socialist construction.

In 1996, the RTVU system altogether offered 529 specialities from 55 disciplines covering nine fields. Since its founding, the CCRTVU has offered 350 courses in 59 specialities from 22 disciplines covering the six fields of natural science, engineering, humanities, economics and management, agriculture and medical science. The CCRTVU has produced more than 1,000 titles of audio-visual teaching materials, in-cluding learner’s guides and teaching guides as well as over 300 items of audio-visual teaching materials. All the curricula are devised through consultation with eminent specialists and professors. The university is always ready to offer new courses and subjects in line with the national and local needs of economic construction and social development.

RTVUs offer two- or three-year degree courses with a yearly credit system. The aca-demic year is divided into two terms, each with 18 teaching weeks. The credit is cal-culated in terms of teaching hours and one credit is awarded for every 18 hours. Including credits given for field study, a minimum number of credits required is 76. A RTVU student must obtain no less than 60% of his/her total credits through courses offered by the CCRTVU.

PRTVUs may set mid-term exams for some of the courses, but end-of-terms for uni-fied courses are set by the CCRTVU and held at the same time through the country. Passing the examination earns the corresponding credit. The student who has com-pleted the specified courses, obtained the total credits required and been assessed as morally qualified can be granted a certificate of graduation. Both the two-year and three-year degree courses are recognized as tertiary education by the government. The pilot programme of “open entrance students” adopts the credit system, that is any credit gained within eight years will be valid. Once the student has obtained the total credits specified in the curriculum, qualified for practical experience or field study and moral assessment, he/she will be granted a certificate of graduation which is also recognized by the government.

The Continuing Education Programme

The CCRTVU offers a wide variety of vocational training and continuing education courses at different levels in terms of non-degree education.

Since 1986, the CCRTVU has cooperated with more than 40 institutions, including governmental departments, vocational organizations, academic bodies, universities and colleges and large enterprises to run some 60 projects in non-degree education, which has resulted in around four million trainees. In addition, PRTVUs have also offered non-degree education courses with a total number of over 30 million trainees. Two million secondary and primary school headmasters have received training through satellite TV teacher training programmes.

Since 1990, the China Liaoyuan Radio & TV School has developed skills-based practical courses for rural areas and up to now millions of farmers have viewed its programmes.


The target students of RTVU degree courses are Chinese citizens with secondary edu-cation qualification or the equivalent. The students have to pass the national entrance examinations set by the State Education Commission (SEdC) for either fresh school leavers or for adult higher education. They can study full-time, part-time or in their spare time. Students in continuing education and in other forms of non-degree education who want to extend their knowledge and to upgrade their professional skills are not required to take entrance examinations. They can obtain certificates on gradua-tion. Up to 1996, nearly 3 million students had been enrolled on degree courses with the RTVU system, from which over 2 million have graduated. The total number of undergraduates at present is 690,000 (including 150,000 "open entrance students" who are not required to take entrance examinations).

Over 600,000 secondary and primary school teachers have completed the satellite teacher training programmes and received diplomas or certificates at either tertiary level or secondary level. Furthermore, around 500,000 in-service adults have followed the courses offered by the Central Radio & TV Specialized Secondary School and received certificates. This category of students following courses at the moment numbers 400,000. The pilot programme of “BA courses” has 3,000 students. At present, the number of all types of undergraduate within the RTVU system exceeds one million.


The CCRTVU is a member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education and a member of the Asian Association of Open Universities. It has over the years built up and maintained good relations with other open and distance education institutions and international organizations (e.g. US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Thailand, India as well as Hong Kong and Macao). Their contacts have provided a valuable forum for discussions and exchanges of ideas and have been of mutual benefit.

The British Council has cooperated with the CCRTVU since 1981 and has sent English language teaching experts to provide assistance in the production of both printed and audio-visual teaching material.

The Japanese government funded the programme to produce Japanese language courses covering trade, science and travelling subjects as a result of cooperation between the CCRTVU and Japan NHK International Inc. In 1995 the CCRTVU, the US-China Distance Education Development Foundation and the San Francisco State University College of Business cooperated to develop and offer three courses on Marketing, Finance and Accounting to RTVU students. After the students have completed the courses, they can obtain the course certificate jointly issued by the CCRTVU and San Francisco State University.

In 1996, the CCRTVU worked with Novell, USA in offering a Novell Network Administration Training Course to the public.


  1. China Central Radio & TV University (CCRTVU) - People's Republic of China, at
  2. China Central Radio and TV University(I), at
  3. CCRTVU (A view from the eChina programme), at
  4. Links with US, at
  5. ODL Example: China Radio & TV Universities (CRTVU), from PANdora project, at
  6. Experiences and Perspectives of International Co-operation in China Open and Distance Education, at
  7. Interpreting Quality Online Learning: Perspectives and Assumptions, at
  8. Satellite distance education in China, at

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