Shantou University (STU) was founded in 1981 and started student enrollment in 1983. It is the only institution of higher education in the Chaoshan area.

STU, a key comprehensive university under the provincial Project 211 program, was founded in 1981 with the approval of the State Council. As the only public university that receives long-term funding from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, it is jointly supported by the Ministry of Education, the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Li Ka Shing Foundation. The Li Ka Shing Foundation has committed and donated a total of HK$5.4 billion to support Shantou University (including the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business), of which HK$4.2 billion has already been donated as of 2012.

STU is committed to the student-centered reform in terms of university administration and talent training, in order to cultivate talents with the motto, “Aspiration, Knowledge, Perseverance, Achievement”. It is also planning to relocate the Medical College into the main campus and to develop a globally advanced curriculum focusing on life science. Since 2001, the University has conducted a profound internationalization-oriented reform, and overseas talents have been recruited to serve as provost, vice president and deans. Through a series of reforms in curriculum design, teaching, resources management and human resources system, it aims to offer a platform for the exploration of higher educational reform in China. With its successful innovations, the University was highly appraised by Comrade Li Lanqing, member of the Standing Committee of Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council, as “the pilot site for higher educational reform in China.”

STU is strongly supported by the Central, Provincial, and Municipal authorities. The Current General secretary visited the university in the early 1990s. Former General secretary Jiang Zemin paid two visits to the university and wrote the following inscription as praise and encouragement to the staff and students: “The mission is demanding and the journey ahead is long.” Other leaders of the Central Government have also visited the university. Among them are President Hu Jintao, Premier Li Peng, NPC(National People's Congress), Chairman Qiao Shi, CPPCC Chairman Li Ruihuan, Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Vice Governor of Guangdong Wang Yang.

In 2012, the Ministry of Education, the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Li Ka Shing Foundation signed a tripartite agreement to co-develop STU. The agreement was reached to support STU’s continuing reform efforts geared to an internationally renowned and nationally elite university.

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