Equity In Higher Education And Sustainable Development In China by Minhui Chen

In this blog post, I aim to explore the issue of equity in higher education in mainland China from the perspective of sustainable development. The reason why I want to discuss this topic is that equity has become a worldwide concern in higher education system. Recent years, China has made stable progress in higher education conforming to the trend of the world.

Higher education reform in China Beyond the expansion

So far China has already achieved mass access in the higher education (W. John Morgan & Bin Wu, 2011). However, there are still existing some problems. When I read a journal about educational injustice between the rural areas and the urban areas in China, I realised that the social justice is a crucial factor of higher education and sustainable development. And this essay will also use the educational unfairness in the urban and rural areas as the example to analyse the equity of higher education. Thus, the existing unfair problems in higher education are calling for the reform of the policy. This blog might provide the policy makers like you with some reflections.

As for the perspective of sustainable development, I think that improving equity in higher education could promote social justice and sustainable development. On the one hand, higher education could be the preparation for the social life. Students could learn not only general knowledge but also cooperation, the new ways of thinking and many other skills through education (Victor Nolet, 2016).

If students experience the equitable higher education, it will make them engage in various challenges in the society confidently and contribute to the social development; on the other hand, improving the equity to higher education could narrow the gap and promote sustainability. Because if the students accept unfair education, they will gain the different level of academic and living skills. In the future, the gaps between these students will exist in nearly all aspects of social life such as income and lifestyle. In this way, the social contradiction will occur. And it could be conducive to the sustainable development of society.

As an essential issue of equity in higher education in China, the imbalance of rural area and urban area has become a serious concern. In China, the access to higher education institutions is the uniform National College Entrance Examination (hereafter referred to as NCEE). However, refer to the research of Xu Yang (2010), the rate of participating the NCCE in urban areas is as much as 98.4% and the rate in the rural areas is much lower at 79%.

Thus, the students from the urban areas usually get higher scores than students from the rural areas. In this way, the access to the higher education is injustice between the urban and rural areas. Because of different opportunities to attend the universities, the social justice could not achieve. Furthermore, the result of the disparity of access to higher education in urban and rural does not conform to the requirements of sustainable development.

The reasons for the unfairness in the education between urban and rural areas are multi-faceted. On the one hand, the unfair educational recourses distribution leads to the injustice study opportunities. Students in the urban areas enjoy the advanced educational recourses. Schools in the urban areas usually equipped with adequate and modern facilities; advanced teaching ideas; scientific management. On the contrary, many schools in the rural areas even lack basic teaching equipment (W. John Morgan & Bin Wu, 2011).

Also, according to Xu Yang’s research, the proportion of qualified teachers in the urban areas is higher than that in the rural areas. In this way, students from the urban areas and the rural areas have inequitable chance to access the higher education. On the other hand, the economic problem is also the obstacle to achieving the equity in education. The rural and urban income gap has widened due to the economic growth in China. Unlike the students from the urban areas, some of the rural students are from the low-income families. They can’t even afford the tuition fee. In this way, the opportunities to access to higher education are different.

The case of educational unfairness between the urban and rural areas in China reflects the policies towards equity of higher education are not perfect. Policy reform is necessary for improving the equity in higher education and enhance sustainable development in China. Here are some recommendations.

Firstly, the policy towards education recourses distribution should be improved. As for the teaching equipment, the government should increase educational investment in the rural area make sure to improve the quality of education. As for the teachers, the government should reform the construction of the professional teachers in rural areas. The government could also attract professional teachers to work in rural by high salary and welfare policy. Secondly, as for the economic problem, the policy towards financial aid should also be reformed and improved.

The successful experience of the America could be a reference. The America has the complete system of financial support, such as student loans, scholarships, tuition waiver and so on (Xu Yang, 2010). If Chinese government could improve this kind of policy, the poor students who cannot afford the tuition fees could access to the higher education institutions.

To sum up, the policy reform is necessary for improving the equity in higher education in China. Furthermore, the achievement of this kind of equity could contribute to the social justice and sustainable development.



Morgan, W. J., & Wu, B. (2011). Higher education reform in China: Beyond the expansion. Taylor & Francis.

Nolet, V. (2016). Educating for Sustainability: Principles and practices for teachers. Routledge.

Yang, X. (2010). Access to higher education for rural-poor students in China. Educational Research for Policy and Practice9(3), 193-209.