Rural-urban gap in academic performance at a highly selective Chinese university : variations and determinants

Kai ZHAO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

Abstract

Rural students’ academic performance is of critical importance for college success and later life outcomes. Prior literature on the rural-urban gap in academic performance has produced mixed results. Drawing on data from students at a highly selective university in Beijing, this study compares the differences in academic performance between students of rural and urban origins across fields of study and college years. Results demonstrate that rural students academically lag behind their urban peers in arts and humanities and STEM fields, but not in social sciences. A significant rural-urban gap in academic performance exists among first- and second-year students, but not among third- and fourth-year students. Further analyses show that in the early stage of their college career the rural-urban gap in academic performance can be largely explained by rural students’ disadvantages in family backgrounds and the type of high school attended. To some extent, these findings suggest that Chinese colleges and universities play a role in leveling the field by alleviating rural students’ disadvantages associated with family backgrounds and K-12 education.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Early online date23 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 HERDSA.

Keywords

  • academic performance
  • fields of study
  • I-E-O
  • Rural-urban gap
  • time use

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