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Access to Higher Education in China: Differences in Opportunity

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image of Frontiers of Education in China

Access to higher education in China has opened up significantly in the move towards a mass higher education system. However, aggregate growth does not necessarily imply fair or reasonable distribution of opportunity. In fact, the expansion of higher education has a rather more complex influence on opportunity when admissions statistics are viewed by geographical region, rural and urban environment, social class, type of school, gender, and ethnicity. Since 1999, gaps in access opportunities have generally diminished, especially in terms of the urban-rural dimension. Efforts to increase university admission rates for women and minorities have resulted in significant progress. However, the gap in university admission between different social classes has been closing more slowly. Children from more advantaged backgrounds have more chances to study at key universities, and differences in access between provinces are still considerable. Social class polarization in secondary school is still a serious issue. Such problems at high school level directly lead to the accumulation and continuation of a gap in opportunities to access higher education. While agreeing that the aggregate growth of higher education provision in China is a positive development, we also strive to improve equality of opportunity.


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