Policy Analysis: On Chinese Higher Education Entry Policy

Year: 2004

Author: Yang, Cunzhen, Gale, Trevor

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

With the arrival of the new century, the Chinese government decided to increase the university enrolment rate to 15% of the college age population by the year 2005 and the plan has been put into action since 1999. The plan is to take Chinese higher education from an "elite" to a "mass" stage (Trow, 1974) and it is also a response to the influence of globalization on Chinese higher education, which causes many university candidates to look for higher education opportunities abroad. The policy is likely to meet its goal well before time. However successful implementation does not necessarily bring satisfactory effects. The paper analyses the policy through historical comparison of the current and previous higher education entry policies and tries to identify the nature of the change. It also critically analyses the complexities in these policy settlements and reveals the advantaged and disadvantaged groups in the society under these policies. The paper argues that the current policy is greatly influenced by the neo-liberal economic settlement, globalization, and the demands of Chinese citizens. While the policy has provided more chances for students to go to university, at the same time, it has disadvantaged the students from poor family backgrounds, making it even harder for them to get access to higher education and limiting their social mobility. The paper also suggests that the policy may increase the gap between the rich and the poor if appropriate solutions are not found.