China has released a plan to permit foreign higher education institutions and those from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan to independently set up and run universities and higher vocational schools in the Hainan Free Trade Zone (FTZ), China Daily reported Wednesday. Previously, universities outside the Chinese mainland needed to cooperate with a local partner to run schools on the mainland, according to the paper. Reputable overseas universities specializing in the fields of science, engineering, agriculture and medicine can open campuses in Hainan, according to the plan released by the Ministry of Education and the provincial government of Hainan. The universities are encouraged to introduce advanced courses and teaching materials and admit foreign students, and they can also enroll students from the mainland through the national enrollment policy, according to the plan. Allowing foreign universities to independently operate in the Hainan FTZ shows the determination and confidence of China to accelerate high-quality education opening-up, which will be more in-depth, proactive and flexible, Lin Jinhui, director of the center of research on Chinese-foreign cooperation in running schools at Xiamen University, was quoted as saying. The favorable policies in Hainan are expected to attract more foreign universities to open campuses in China and Chinese students can have more options to enjoy high-quality education without going overseas, he said.