Policy and Public Preferences Regarding the University Enrollment Quotas System across Chinese Provinces

  • Xiaolei Qin
  • Ross BuchananEmail author
Original Article


The University Enrollment Quota Policy in China determines the proportion of Chinese University Entrance Exam (known colloquially in China as the Gaokao) takers in each province that is admitted to the country’s universities each year. This policy strongly favors Gaokao takers from just eight provinces, while those from the other 23 provinces have no quota privilege. In this article, we find evidence that this policy negatively affects the public’s preferences regarding the university enrollment quotas policy after examining the relationship between changes in university enrollment quotas and public preference in 23 Chinese provinces from 2011 through 2016. This relationship is consistent with what is predicted by the “thermostatic” responsiveness model, which has only been tested in democracies until now. We also test whether government policy is responsive to public preferences and find that government policy is not responsive to the general public in this issue domain. Our findings support the argument for deep reform of the university enrollment quota policy to address the core disparities in quotas across provinces and improve equal access to higher education in China.


university enrollment quotas policy public responsiveness equal rights in higher education China 



National Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Science from China (15BZZ072).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

41307_2019_170_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Association of Universities 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public AdministrationNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of GovernmentUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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