The exchanges between CUHK and mainland universities and research institutes has been growing since China adopted the Open Door Policy and economic reform. Earlier in the 1980s, CUHK had recruited the mainland students for postgraduate study. After the return of Hong Kong in 1997, a working group was set up to make arrangement to recruit undergraduates from the mainland. It was subsequently decided that applicants to CUHK have to be students already accepted for enrolment by either Peking University or Fudan University, who would help with the initial screening process. In September 1998, 28 mainland students, who had passed the interviews conducted by CUHK representatives, arrived in Hong Kong. They were also the first batch of mainland students studying in Hong Kong. Among those 28 students, 12 students had opted to major in the integrated BBA progamme, while the others had chosen to study in the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Social Science. Upon arrival at CUHK, a thorough orientation programme was organized to prepare them for their study and stay in Hong Kong. The Faculties and Colleges had also given them a warm welcome. In 2005 CUHK started to take part in the National Colleges and Universities Enrollment System.
CUHK has admitted over 3,800 mainland undergraduates since 1998. As more of them coming to the University, the mainland students established the Mainland Undergraduate Association (MUA) which aims at strengthening the ties of mainland undergraduates and enhancing communication with the University and the Colleges.
〈首批精英學生抵港 修讀中大本科課程〉，《中文大學校刊》一九九八年秋 ‧ 冬
“Top Students from the Mainland begin Their Undergraduate Studies aat CU”, CUHK Bulletin 1998 Autumn ‧ Winter
The first batch of mainland undergraduate students of CUHK (9/1998)
The University Registrar Professor Richard Ho introducing the mainland undergraduate students to the press (9/1998)