Issues of inequality under China's higher educational reform : urban-rural and strata differences in access
Issues of educational inequality have been hotly debated in China ever since the higher educational reform in the late 1990s. High tuitions and the privileged access of advantaged groups are attracting more people’s concerns. This thesis examines the current status of Chinese student access to higher education in the post-reform era, and explores the urban-rural and strata differences among students with different social origins and family backgrounds. The expansion and tuition reform of Chinese higher education not only poses financing college as the biggest difficulty for those disadvantaged groups, but also perpetuates the established social hierarchy. This thesis finds that, despite the progress made in equalizing access by urban-rural and strata origins at the mass higher education era in China, disadvantaged groups remain their unfavorable status in accessing higher education, as compared to their counterparts who are economically, culturally, and socially superior. The initial quantitative access differences are gradually turning into qualitative disparities, the higher the demand for the university or/and major, the more urban and higher socioeconomic students enroll. The theories of financial, cultural, and social capital were employed in the thesis and provide a plausible explanation to the continuing disadvantaged status of poor groups. The methodology used is mainly a quantitative technique that resorts on a variety of secondary data, such as national and provincial yearbooks of educational statistics and census, large sample surveys, and case studies from previous research. The findings will have many policy implications concerning the expansion, financing, and affordability of higher education in China.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeWotherspoon, Terry; Zhao, Jinggang
Copyright DateOctober 2009
higher educational reform