Journal Article

Regional Inequality of Higher Education Resources in China


  • Liu
  • W.-H.
  • Ma
  • R.
Publication Date

With the expansion of the higher education system in China since the late 1990s, questions on the distribution of higher education opportunities and resources have attracted increasing attention from academics, policymakers and the general public. While there have been an increasing number of studies on the development of higher education opportunity equality in China, quantitative, systematic research on the distribution of higher education resources across China is still rather limited. This paper aims at filling this gap. It provides quantitative and comprehensive evidence on the development of the distribution of higher education resources across Chinese provinces. The analysis is based on a provincial panel dataset and uses a generalised Theil index to measure inequality. Results show that higher education resources have been far from equally provided in relation to the provincial student sizes in China. The unequal distribution has even become more pronounced over the past decade. In other words, even if high school students have an increasingly equal access to higher education in China (Bickenbach and Liu, 2013a), the increasingly unequal distribution of higher education resources makes it difficult for university students to equally benefit from higher education.

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JEL Classification
I23, I24, R10

Key Words

  • China
  • education resources
  • higher education
  • regional inequality
  • Theil index