Chinese Elite Higher Education and Reproduction of Educational Inequality

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 42
Oral Presentation
Limin LIU , Institute of Education, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany
In 2004, China adopted a novel strategy for admission to elite higher education as a reform of the traditional method of enrollment through Gaokao examination only. This new strategy is called Independent Freshman Admission (IFA, or Zi Zhu Zhao Sheng in Chinese). Whereas ample evidence exists for the social disadvantages of people with low SES in the ability to access and complete elite higher education in Westernized countries, research on educational inequality at elite universities in non-Western countries has remained scarce. This research, using administrative data from one Chinese elite university in the years 2007 and 2008, presents behind-the-scenes details of admission processes at Chinese elite universities for the first time and demonstrates the impact of these processes on educational stratification in a radically changing society. Significant associations were found in the IFA selection process between students’ socioeconomic origin and whether they passed the multi-stage selection process to access tertiary education. The new IFA system favors students from higher socio-economic origins at the expense of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds in admission to elite universities. Furthermore, this institutional reform of elite higher education will likely have a long-term impact on the social origins of the intellectual elite and changes in social structure in Chinese society.