This chapter deals with the period roughly between the 1860s and 1911, the gradual fading out of traditional institutions, and the development of "modern" universities and colleges, also of legislation that was designed to integrate attractive external patterns within an explicit and persisting set of Chinese definitions. It also deals with the period from 1911 to 1927, a time of revolution followed by near anarchy, which gave considerable space for experimentation at the levels of policy, legislation, and practice in higher education. The chapter provides the story of universities under the Nationalist government, the first unified modern political context for their development. It examines the alternate higher institutions that developed in the border regions under Communist control, and which were to set a model both modern and purely Chinese in form. The ideas of university autonomy and academic freedom were only taken up seriously in Chinese intellectual circles.