USTC was established in Beijing in September, 1958 under the presidential leadership of Guo Moruo. The establishment was hailed as "a major event in the history of Chinese science and education".
The CAS supported the University by pooling its entire strength for the development of USTC and combining most of its institutes with the University's departments, creatively integrating science with technology, cutting-edge sciences with the latest technologies in cultivating high-tech talent in new, frontier and interdisciplinary fields. An excellent atmosphere of "studying hard and excelling in both integrity and specialty" was formed at the University. After the pioneering stage (1958-1970), USTC rapidly ranked itself among the national key universities.
In the early 1970s, the University was moved to Hefei, the capital city of Anhui province, and commenced its second stage of development. Since 1978, the University has initiated a series of open and reform measures with a forward-looking sense and innovative spirit in the field of education, gaining a quick recovery from the Cultural Revolution and remarkable development. Since the 7th and 8th Five-year National Development Plans, the University has become one of the national bases for cultivating highly qualified personnel and implementing high-level research. Comrade Deng Xiaoping once praised the University as "a university well-known for its young talents".
USTC initiated the resumption of the National College Entrance Examinations and set up the first Class for the Gifted Young to foster super-normal early youth nationwide. Recruitment for the class has been on-going for 22 years.
USTC set up the first graduate school in China in 1978 to effectively cultivate its postgraduate students.
In respect of talent development, the University adheres to a combination of science with technology, teaching with research, and theory with practice by launching experimental classes without emphasis on students specialties, the "major plus supplementary courses" system, the "4-2-3" cultivation system for undergraduate, masters and doctoral students in line with their aptitudes, the consistent "master-doctor" education system to cultivate doctoral students and the "double-bachelor system".
The University has taken the lead in sending many teachers abroad for advanced studies and academic cooperation and exchanges in China.
After 1993, the University started its third stage of development by taking the initiative in adapting to the requirement and challenge resulting from the development of science and technology, education and social economy in the world, seriously implementing the Chinese Educational Reform and Development Program and sparing no effort in reforms in teaching, research, and structural adjustments. During the period of the Ninth Five-year National Development Plan, USTC was granted to be one of the universities given priority in construction under the National Project 211.
In June of 1998, Jiang Zemin, the former president of the People's Republic of China, inscribed for the University's 40th anniversary, "facing the 21st century, building a first-class university and cultivating top-level talent".
Since the launch of the third stage of development, the University has endeavored to cultivate its graduate education, implemented the USTC Undergraduate Research Program, engaged postgraduate students as research or teaching assistants and actively undertaken reform in course content and curriculum systems to enhance the all-round quality education centered on fostering students innovative spirit, broad and well-knit theoretical knowledge and practical ability in research and experiments.
After the present university leaders took their posts in July of 1998, they proposed the University's development plan geared to the 21st century, which was based on serious investigations conducted by the leading group and extensive discussions among USTC staff members. The plan is to build the University into a moderate-scale, high-quality and reasonably structured first-class research university with unique characteristics by 2018, the 60th anniversary of USTC. The University will then be an educational and research base in collaboration with the CAS and other research institutes for the education of top talent possessing innovative capacity and a modern knowledge structure and with the strength for knowledge and technology innovations.
In July of 1999, the CAS, the Ministry of Education and the People's Government of Anhui Province signed a tripartite agreement to provide unified support for the construction of USTC so as to build it into a high-level world renowned university.