Xiangtan University was founded in 1958 on Chairman Mao Zedong’s proposal. XTU was approved as a national key university by the State Council in 1978, and joined the team of 88 national key universities and 16 comprehensive key universities. In 1978, XTU started to enroll graduate students, and became one of China’s first batch of academic units eligible to confer master’s degrees in 1981.
The University which was identified to be comprehensive university at its very start has the disciplines covering 10 categories, 84 undergraduate programs, 8 first-tier discipline doctorate programs, 69 second-tier discipline doctorate programs, 180 master programs, 11 post-doctoral stations, 3 national key disciplines and 19 key provincial programs in the 12th 5-year-plan of Hunan Province. Rheological Mechanics and Consumption Economics were initiated in the University and then spread to other universities in China. Chemistry, Material and Engineering ranks within top 1 percent according to American ESI Discipline Rank. Until now, the University consists of more than 1400 teachers , a high quality team including a batch of renowned professors entitled with Cross Academician, Yangtse River Scholar, National Jie Qing, National Candidate in "One Thousand People Plan" and Prominent Educator. The University enjoys a reputation for pioneering research and innovation, which vitalise the undergraduate courses and postgraduate programmes, and introduce the students and staff to the latest thinking in their chosen fields. Some of national most significant achievements took place at the the University such as 60 research institutes of national, provincial and ministerial level and over 100 high level awards like National Science and Technology Progress Award, Natural Science in Colleges and Universities Award of Ministry of Education, China Outstanding Research Achievement of Humanities and Social Award and Feng Kang Prize for Scientific Computing.
As the first overseas students enrollment unit in Hunan Province, the University has been intensifying its international exchange and cooperation and establishing an extensive inter-collegiate exchange and cooperation with over 50 universities in more than 20 countries, including the Confucius Institute with the University of Leon in Spain and the Confucius Institute of Makerere University. In 1994, the university was authorized by Ministry of Education to enroll international students. The first international students came 2 years later. Ever since then, there are many international students come and study Chinese language and culture or other degree programs of all levels including bachelors, masters and doctors.
The story over fifty years has made the University brilliant, boasting a campus covering an area of over 527 acres, which hosts about 40,000 on-campus students plus staff members as well. Three-arch gate is regarded as the logo of the University. The richly resourced library, gigantic teaching buildings and laboratories, well-equipped student apartments as well as the beautiful landscape with green mountains and rivers, pavilions, towers and terrace halls tell the harmony between human and nature.