Gaokao reform: China’s college admission process to be fairer and more merit-based

Source: Xinhua

BEIJING, February 16 (Xinhua) – Full implementation of reforms in higher education examinations and enrollment systems have led to greater equity in China’s college admission processes with more reasonable procedures which prioritize student merits more than ever.

According to 2017 MOE statistics, provincial rankings in enrollment rates at National College Entrance Examinations (NCEE) show that the gap between the lowest and average enrollment rates dropped from 5% in 2016 to 4%. Thanks to targeted national, local and higher education institution (HEI) programs, a total of 100,000 rural and underprivileged students were admitted to HEIs, marking an increase of 8,500 or 9.3% over the previous year. Policies to facilitate the way for children of rural migrants to take the NCEE in the cities where they live were introduced and implemented in all 30 provinces across the country (except in Tibet), resulting in 150,000 applicants, showing an increase of 25% over the previous year.

Statistics also show that the number of bonus-point items and beneficiaries of this system fell dramatically, with the national items adjusted where relevant and local items cut to 35, down 63% from the previous year. The number of students entitled to bonus points continued to drop significantly year by year, and in 2017 fell by 110,000 over the previous year. The HEIs independent student recruitment process has been tightened, with new students admitted through this process representing only 2% of the total. Recruitment procedures have also been improved, where applications are now submitted after the NCEE in all 31 provinces, which gives better visibility to students over their choice of university and major. Reforms in admission rounds have been implemented across the country, and third round undergraduate admissions have now been abandoned in 22 provinces, while first and second round undergraduate admissions in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Shandong and Hainan have now been rolled into one.

In 2017, the new recruitment model which looks at both student performance in the NCEE, the senior high school academic proficiency test, and their overall reports has been adopted in Shanghai and Zhejiang, which has also led to the need for a comprehensive reform in teaching, examination and enrollment. The unified overall quality evaluation system was established in the two regions, shifting evaluations from a purely NCEE score-based process to a system where a student’s past academic achievements are also taken into account. Over 70% students chose new subject combinations instead of following the former mandatory path of either liberal arts or science, giving students a better chance to realize their all-round potential. In addition, new teaching management methods have been established in senior high schools across the country, whereby students may choose classes according to their own interests and long-term career plans.