Sunday, February 03, 2013

Universities for the rich

The recent study by the Institute of Education confirms what many of us suspect, that it is much easier for the rich to enter university in Hong Kong.  There are still some surprises, however.  Firstly, It is much more unequal than I thought, and secondly, it wasn’t nearly so unequal 20 years ago, according to the data.  

In 2011, 19.3% of 19-20 year olds are in university - a figure pretty much within expectations.  The corresponding figure in 1991 was 5.6%.

In 1991, the percentage of the rich who were in university was 9.3%, higher than the 8% for the poor, but not outrageously so.  In 2011, the corresponding numbers are 48.2% and 13%, a ratio of 3.7 to 1.  That’s really too much.  While university education has expanded tremendously in the past 20 years, it has benefitted mainly the rich.

From the perspective of equality in educational opportunities, the situation under Chinese rule is much worse than when Hong Kong was under British colonial rule.  The situation is really ironic.  Aren't the Communists supposed to be fighting on the side of the poor and exploited working class against the rich and exploiting capitalist class?  Why is it that after the Communists took control of Hong Kong, the rich actually become comparatively much richer - at least in the realm of education?

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