One of the four famous academies in ancient China, the Yuelu Academy lies at the foot of Yuelu Mountain on the campus of Hunan University. The academy integrates three major functions: giving lectures, collecting books and holding memorial ceremonies. As an important national library and academic center, the Yuelu Academy embraces some historical sites, such as Wenchang Pavilion, Library of Imperial Books and Xiangshui Sutra Proofreading Hall.
The academy has witnessed more than a thousand years of history and is the only one of the ancient Chinese academies of Classical Learning to have evolved into a modern institution of higher learning. As one of the four most prestigious academies over the last 1000 years in China, Yuelu Academy has been a famous institution of higher learning as well as a centre of academic activities and cultures since it was formally set up in the ninth year of the Kai Bao Reign of the Northern Song Dynasty (976). Yuelu Academy, surviving the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, was converted into Hunan Institute of Higher Learning in 1903, and Hunan Normal College, Hunan Public Polytechnic School in succession, and was finally named Hunan University in 1926. The Academy has witnessed a history of more than one thousand years without a break, so it is called a "one-thousand-year-old academy".
The historical transformation from Yuelu Academy to Hunan University can be seen as the epitome of the development of China's higher education, a change which mirrors the vicissitudes of education system in mainland China. Today, Hunan University has grown into a comprehensive university with a balanced development of various disciplines. It focuses on engineering subjects, but also has a solid foundation in science subjects. Its liberal arts are grounded in a unique culture, and the economics courses have characteristics of their own, too. Yuelu Academy, which has undergone restorations, has been listed as a key historical site under the state protection. It still shoulders the responsibility of conducting academic researches and training professionals. A new chapter of the history of the one-thousand-year-old academy is being written.