Today, China has become the most favored destination of English-medium MBBS for international students. As early as the late Ming Dynasty, foreign missionaries have brought to China western modern Medicine and Pharmacology. Chinese western science-based medical education has developed for over one hundred years. Since the nineteenth century, western medical missionaries, Protestant Christian physicians and surgeons came to China to open China’s first modern clinics, hospitals and medical schools.
As early as 1886, the first western medicine academic group in China—China Medical Missionary Association—was set up in Shanghai. In 1921, the Rockefeller Foundation funded Peking Union Medical College (PUMC), which played a crucial role in developing modern nursing in China in the first half of the twentieth century. In the early twentieth century, numerous western medical colleges of advanced education level were established by foreigners, Chinese government or Chinese businessmen, such as Hsiang-Ya Medical College, Peking Union Medical College, Medical School of Cheeloo University etc. Among them, mission schools emulated American and British medical education systems and offered lessons in English. Meanwhile, many medical books were translated into Chinese. Owing to these medical institutions, a great number of medical professionals were trained and medical teaching experiences were accumulated, which paved the way for modern development of medical education in China.
Chinese Government’s Effort in Booming Medical Education
From 1949 to 1965, Chinese government had attached great importance to the medical education to train abundant medical professionals to develop China’s Healthcare network. During the following ten years’ Cultural Revolution, China’s medical education suffered some losses, but it recovered soon and has made great progress under the later construction and support from the Communist Party of China.
Since 1978, the outward-looking policy has greatly promoted Chinese international education exchanges and cooperation, through which medical schools in China have learned and borrowed from abroad a lot of advanced experiences in medical education.
In 1980s, President Deng Xiaoping reassigned the highest priority to education to restore and further improve the medical education system.
In 1995, the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China initiated the Project 211 (the abbreviation of the 21st century and approximately 100 universities respectively) and then President Jiang Zemin put forward Project 985 (code-named after the date Year 98 Month 5), aiming to promote the Chinese higher education system so as to raise their influence and reputation in the world and cultivate high-level elite for national economic and social development strategies. Both projects sponsored national key higher educational institutions, including about 40-50 medical universities. Owing to Chinese government’s economic support, medical education in China booms with more advanced teaching facilities and more qualified teachers.
In 1999, medical universities or medical colleges in China were free-standing and eleven of them reported to the Ministry of Health. Later, to adapt to the international trend of the integration development of modern science and technology, Chinese medical universities were merged with non-medical universities to create "comprehensive universities". Consequently, all of the institutions are now operating under the Ministry of Education with the exception of Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) which continues to report to the Ministry of Health. Many of these comprehensive universities have reached to the highest level of international standard and are recognized by WHO, USMLE and so on.
See also: Top Medical Universities in China, 2010