This thesis analyzes the 1999 higher education expansion policy and the preliminary realization of mass higher education in China from the perspective of Chinese rural students. The objective of the study is to identify the major features of mass higher education in the Chinese context and the general position of rural students in higher education, so as to call wider attention to Chinese rural students and rural education. With this purpose, the study integrates the theoretical achievements in mass higher education, rural construction, education equality, etc., and discusses the status quo of rural China and Chinese higher education from multiple perspectives.
The thesis adopts a large amount of data analyzing the participation in higher education by rural students, from which it can be concluded that rural students as a whole are in an underrepresented position. In order to track down the factors underlying the disadvantaged position of rural students, the study applies the theories of policy analysis to examine the Chinese higher education expansion policy.
The analysis of the policy reveals that Chinese education policy has a preference toward efficiency, without having given due consideration to the disadvantaged group with respect to equity and equality. And it also reveals the great disparity between rural China and the urban areas in the field of higher education under the urban-rural dual system.
Higher education is an important means for the development of rural China, and vise versa, the condition of rural China determines the development of Chinese higher education in the long run. But from the study it can be seen that the improvement of the condition for rural students, and in turn for the peasants as a whole, not only lies in the elimination of the problems in higher education, but also depends on a comprehensive structure reform.