The institutionalized stratification of the Chinese higher education system

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To promote research excellence, China’s government has been offering substantial financial support for a small group of selected universities through three national research programs (Project 211, Project 985, Double First Class). However, admission to these programs may not be completely merit based. Based on a statistical analysis of Chinese universities’ scientific activities, this paper shows that this institutionalized hierarchy is not supported by empirical data on research performance, which contributes to inequalities and inefficiencies in Chinese higher education. To build and maintain research capacity, China must support meritocracy across the research system.

This content has been updated on 2 May 2023 at 11 h 20 min.