Premier Li Keqiang hosted an executive meeting of the State Council on May 15th in which a decision was made to raise proportion of rural students attending key institutions of higher education. The special plan to expand rural and impoverished area directed student admission this year will add 30,000 students to the 10,000 already added in an initiative aimed at particularly impoverished student admission last year. The admission plan covers all 211 plan schools and schools under the administration of the central government, especially well-known schools.
In recent years, the proportion of college students from rural areas has dropped, attracting attention from all circles. It has been interpreted as a clear example of the growing gap between urban and rural development. A solution to the current situation is naturally needed, and the directed admission expansion plan is without a doubt the quickest way to achieve the desired effect. The State Council’s adoption of the reasonable measures increases the number of rural students at key universities as well as sends an clear message.
The expanded directed admission method being used to raise the number of rural students is actually quite thought provoking. As everyone knows, the direction of the “impoverished area directed admission” policy was very clear. Now, the further expansion in scale of this program to include rural students corrects for their lower performance within the entry test system.
What needs to be made clear is that the majors that may be selected by students entering schools through these directed admission plans are all concentrated in areas related to agriculture in order to “encourage and lead to a return to service in the countryside” after graduation. That is, the trajectory of these student’s lives is being set for them, and it may not match up with their highly aspirational image of the future.
In reality, relying purely on directed admission to increase the proportion of rural students in universities is still not enough. For one thing, the government policy does not increase the basic competitiveness of these students. Additionally, the policy has additional service requirements, so it does not allow for students to pursue their variety of interests. To consider it further, although it increases the proportion of rural students, there is still much work left to be done. The first and most important piece of work is to promote the equalization of educational resources, and let rural schools catch up in terms of hardware and software availability.
Certainly, before the optimization of education in the city and countryside, the rapid development and expansion of directed admission in the countryside is also very useful… compared to getting tens of thousands of children from the countryside into top schools, the influence of direction in which the policy moves is far reaching. And as for the right to equality in education, government policy needs to improve this one step at a time.
Original publication date: 5/17/13