The motto of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, ‘Self-discipline and Social Commitment,’ is borne out by its history and its commitment to academic excellence.
Officially established in 1911, Tsinghua takes its name from the former royal gardens of the Qing dynasty on which it was founded. Originally a preparatory school for Chinese students sent to study in the United States, it was funded through returned reparations following the Boxer Rebellion.
The university’s campus is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Asia, incorporating features that date back over three centuries, including a 1,200 seat auditorium, once the biggest of its kind in China, and the Shui Mu Tsinghua lake, often compared to the gardens of the Summer Palace in Beijing.
In 1925, the university launched its four-year undergraduate programmes, but briefly had to merge with two other universities and move to the south of the country, to Kunming, following the outbreak of the War of Resistance against Japan in 1937.
Returning to Beijing after the war and with the later founding of the People’s Republic of China, the university became an engineering-focused polytechnic, and Jiang Nanxiang, who later went on to become higher education minister, was appointed president.
Library budgets were slashed during the Cultural Revolution, and many important book and periodical subscriptions were cut, though a concerted effort by faculty and staff saved many of their collections.
Tsinghua has diversified its specialisms since 1978, merging with Beijing’s Central Academy of Art and Design in 1999 and the Graduate School of the People's Bank of China in 2012, which led to the creation of the Tsinghua University PBC School of Finance.
The university’s 14 schools and 56 departments comprise 46,200 students, of which only about a third are undergraduates.
Its library is housed in one of the oldest buildings on campus, covering 2114 square metres and containing total physical collections of 4.79 million item/volumes. It was designed by renowned American architect Henry Murphy.