Dr Po Yang from Peking University will analyse a series of student financial aid policy changes in China and the extent to which these changes have led to higher education expansion and stratification.
Dr Yang argues that since the late 1990s, Chinese central government explicitly utilised the ‘commanding heights’ strategy to provide incentives for regional tertiary development. Since 2017, central and regional governments and higher education institutions have assumed different responsibilities in the new student aid system.
A brief review of empirical evidence shows that the current aid system has facilitated college access for disadvantaged students, produced positive learning and timely graduation, and enhanced early labour market outcomes. However, grant-in-aid and student loan programmes are poorly targeted, too small to induce behavioral change, hardly reduce student poverty, and enlarge the aid gap between world-class universities and other institutions.
Dr Yang concludes that there is no doubt that the Chinese government is very agile in responding to student financial needs by increasing public aid offerings and diversifying aid packages. New student aid policy goals, such as ‘targeting aid’ and ‘student aid for poverty reduction’, need to be integrated into higher education quality assurance frameworks to take effect and mitigate stratification among student groups.
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