Ford Foundation Study of Rural Student in China’s Top-tier Universities


Gaining admission to universities is an important step toward upward social mobility for rural students. Adjusting to higher education institutions constitutes the next crucial one. This longitudinal study investigates social and academic experiences of representative samples of rural college students entering elite universities in China by using both quantitative and qualitative data. The project hopes to understand the social and cultural barriers for rural students in China’s elite universities, and introduce the research findings to the public and policy makers to help them be aware of the need of rural college students.

Team members:Gerard Postiglione, Li-fang Zhang, Xie Ailei, Qin Yunyun


Xie, A. & Reay, D.(2019). Successful Rural Students in China’s Elite Universities: Habitus Transformation and Inevitable Hidden Injuries? Higher Education, 61(1).

Xie, A. & Hong. Y, Huan, K. & Postiglione, G. A.(2018). Cultural Capital Deficiency as A Challenge: Rural Students in Elite Universities (in Chinese), Peking University Education Review, 16(4), 45-64.

Xie, A. & Kuang, H, Postiglione, G. A., & Liu, Q. (2018). Integrated Cultural Capital Strategies and Social Success of Urban and Rural Students in Elite Universities (in Chinese), Higher Education Research, 39(9), 30-36.

Postiglione, G. A., Xie, A., Jung, J., & Hong, Y. (2017). Rural Students in a Chinese Top-tier University: Family Background, School Effects and Academic Performance. Chinese Education & Society, 50(2), 63-74.

Xie, A. (2016). Rural Students in China’s Elite Universities: Social Mobility and Habitus Transformation (in Chinese). Educational Research, 442(11), 74-81.

Xie, A. (2015). Inside the College Gate: Rural Students and Their Academic and Social Success. Chinese Education & Society, 48(2), 77-80.

Xie, A. (2015). Toward a More Equal Admission? Access in the Mass Higher Education Era. Chinese Education & Society, 48(3), 157-162.