China's universities and colleges plan to enroll 5.7 million students in 2007, five percent up from last year, said an official with the Ministry of Education on Tuesday.
The number of postgraduates will reach 424,000, or 6 percent up from 2006, said Yuan Guiren, Deputy Minister of Education.
Yuan said the ministry will limit the growth of university enrollments, and most of the increased quota will go to the relatively under-developed western regions of China.
He said the ministry will focus on improving the quality and conditions of higher education rather than increasing the number of students.
China's college enrollment rate stood at around 3 percent in the mid 1980s, lower than many developing countries, but rose to five percent in the early 1990s.
In 1999, when the government decided to expand higher education, universities enrolled 1.6 million students, up 48 percent on the previous year.
In 2005, 5 million students were enrolled, 4.7 times more than in 1998. The number of students in higher education institutions hit 23 million in 2005, the highest in the world.
Many experts, students and parents believe the expansion of university enrollments that began in 1999 had led to a decline in teaching quality and study conditions in universities.