White Deer College (白鹿书院), in Jiangxi Province, was a private university established 1,000 years ago with its heyday during Song and Ming dynasties.
In classic China (before the middle 17th century), there were two kinds of tertiary education facilities: state-sponsored university and private colleges.
The students of the former were selected nationwide. Not only they needed to pay no tuition fees but were eligible for free accommodation and living allowances. Once successfully graduated, they were usually offered a job at a central government office.
The enrollment requirements for the latter were more flexible, depending on each college’s own established standards and rules.
However, the admission to prestigious colleges like White Deer Studio could even be more stringent than that of the state university. And certainly more expensive.